Deadline coming up for Luzerne County opioid commission applicants

Friday is the application deadline for Luzerne County residents interested in serving on the county’s Commission on Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement.

Resumes and cover letters must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. April 26 to council clerk Sharon Lawrence at the courthouse, 200 N. River St., Wilkes-Barre, 18701, or by email at

Applicants will be publicly interviewed by council’s Authorities, Boards and Commissions Committee the following week, at 6 p.m. on April 30 in the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The opioid advisory body must identify and recommend the best uses for $25 million the county is expected to receive over 18 years from the state’s settlement against opioid manufacturers and wholesale distributors. Council has the final say on how the money is spent.

Also serving on the panel are council Chairman John Lombardo, county District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce, county Drug and Alcohol Administrator Ryan Hogan, county Human Services Division Head Lynn Hill, county Correctional Services Division Head James Wilbur and county Manager Romilda Crocamo.

More information on the citizen seat is posted under council’s section at

Board openings

Citizen applicants also will be needed for a seat on the five-citizen county Flood Protection Authority, which oversees the Wyoming Valley Levee system along the Susquehanna River.

No citizens are currently on the eligibility list for an authority seat.

The flood authority board regretfully accepted board member Gordon Dussinger’s resignation last week. Dussinger’s term was through the end of 2025.

A Republican citizen appointee also is needed for the county ethics commission to fill an overdue vacancy.

A list of all board openings and applications are available on council’s authorities/boards/commissions section at

Pension fund

The county’s employee pension fund ended the first quarter with a balance of $308.67 million, according to fund advisor Richard Hazzouri, of Morgan Stanley.

This equates to a return of 4.12% and $12.3 million in investment earnings for the first quarter, he said.

As always, Hazzouri noted the return rate will likely increase once outstanding alternative investments are priced. Approximately 30% of the portfolio is in alternative investments, or $93.5 million, he said.

With the county’s public fund, the goal is maximizing returns without exposing it to undue risk — all while making sure enough cash is always available to cover ongoing pensions, Hazzouri has said.

In the first quarter, $6.3 million in payments were made to retirees.

An annual county subsidy is required to close a past gap that emerged between fund assets and liabilities.

Tax sale

Elite Revenue Solutions, the county’s tax-claim operator, will hold a special first-stage “upset” delinquent tax auction Thursday for properties carrying defaulted repayment plans.

Elite strictly follows state law governing repayment plans. Property owners must pay 25% down and the remainder in set installments, and the law deems repayment plans in default if two installments are not paid.

To more promptly address such defaults, Elite holds a special auction in the spring.

Owners who default on a repayment plan cannot obtain a new one for three years through the tax claim bureau by law, although some are able to seek new repayment agreements through the court.

Approximately 40 properties remained on the special April 25 auction list as of Friday, although pending court actions are expected to result in some removals.

The period to register to bid has passed. Auction bidders must now register earlier due to 2021 state legislation providing more time for municipalities to research prospective buyers based on expanded bidder reporting requirements.

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


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