Testimony wraps up on Luzerne County’s request to borrow $20 million to avoid shutdown

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com

Luzerne County Judge Thomas Burke said he will issue a ruling around 3:30 p.m. today on the county’s request to borrow $20 million to avoid a government shutdown.

Burke heard more than an hour of testimony from county officials on why the loan was needed before the judge recessed.

The county’s court filing said the loan was necessary to avoid “severely” curtailing county services, which would “adversely impact the public health, safety and general welfare.”

The county is in a bind because the state budget impasse has prevented the county from receiving $22 million in state reimbursement since July 1, officials say.

A county council majority had authorized the borrowing of up to $20 million last week to avoid mass layoffs, service cuts and defaulting on a $7.6 million debt repayment due Dec. 15.

Former county controller Walter Griffith had said he would contest the borrowing if his questions were not answered before the hearing. He did not attend the hearing.

County Assistant Solicitor Vito DeLuca represented the county and called three witnesses — Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri, county Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz and Human Services Division Head Division Head David Schwille.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes


Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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