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Despite mounting bills, board holds off on loan

Published October 08. 2009 05:00PM

Despite mounting bills at an astronomical rate, the Schuylkill County Commissioners decided at their work session to hold off a little longer hoping the state legislature comes up with a budget before they have to borrow money to pay the bills.

Paul Buber, fiscal officer, gave an update on the county's financial problems at the work session held Wednesday at the courthhouse in Pottsville.

"The debt as of the end of September has reached $6.1 million and it increased by two million during the month of September, " he reported. The bills accumulating are for services being provided to mentally ill, senior citizens, children and the juvenile justice department. Commissioner Mantura Gallagher worried about not paying the small business people who have been providing services fearing they would go out of business.

Edward Kleha, chairman of the Schuylkill County Democratic Committee, sitting in on the meeting expressed optimism that the legislature is only $12 million apart and should reach a decision shortly. The stalemate on the state budget has gone 99 days. The state provides most of the funds for the services provided. Although the county has approved taking a $11 million loan Buber has held back initiating obtaining the money because the county would be faced with expenses such as interests and costs for the loan.

Other action

Controller Melinda Kantner was not present at the work session but she should probably would have smiled by the action Fiscal Administrator Mark J. Scarbinsky proposed. He had the commissioners approved updating the county policy pertaining to "conduct and disciplinary action".

Scarbinsky stated, "Although this policy presently outlines parameters for the use of county owned equipment," in requesting an update.

The new procedure includes that county vehicles are to be used for county business only, personal use is prohibited and county issued cell phones also can only be used for county business and not personal use. Several weeks ago Kantner told the commissioners she was checking into reports cars and cell phones were being used for personal reasons.

Another matter also first raised by Kantner dealt with delegation of contract authority. At Scarbinsky's request the commissioners appointed its budget director, Paul Strake, and Scarbinsky as the commissioners' designees to approve contracts under $10,000.

Scarbinsky said the precedence will continue as to the autorization of department directors to approve contracts in virtue of the fact that the board approves each department budget but delegation of contract authority would further facilitate efficiencies in operations and allow for standards to be developed within the administration of the county's operation. Kantner has refused to pay some bills claiming the items and materials obtained should have been under contract and not a purchase order.

Also at Scarbinsky's request the board directed Buber to develop, prepare and distribute a request for proposals in connection with the annual single audit.

A proclamation was adopted designing the week of Oct. 4 through 10 as "National Long-Term Care Residents' Right Week" in the county. The proclamation reads, "We wish to honor and celebrate these citizens, to recoginize their rich individuality and to reaffirm their rights as community members and citizens and have the right to have a say in their care."

At the request of Frannie Brennan, director the county's registration/election bureau, permission was given her to hire 18 rovers who will assist at polling places on election day.

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