Luzerne County road/bridge seeking allocation for vehicles

Luzerne County Road and Bridge is asking county council to earmark up to $350,000 in American Rescue Plan interest earnings to purchase five work vehicles for the department, according to Tuesday’s work session agenda.

Work session items are for discussion only and would require council approval at a future meeting to take effect.

The five vehicles are needed so the fleet is updated and equipped to maintain county roads and bridges, including snow plowing, according to the department’s request.

The county has accrued $908,381 in interest on unspent American Rescue funds through March this year and $5.38 million in total since 2020, according to county Budget/Finance Division Head Mary Roselle’s first-quarter budget report, which also is up for discussion at Tuesday’s work session.

Council had previously approved a $9.96 million American Rescue allocation to road and bridge to complete major drainage improvements on county-owned infrastructure, including five roads in and around the Crestwood Industrial Park in Wright Township.

County Manager Romilda Crocamo said Monday the administration will soon release an update on how that entire earmark will be spent.

Tuesday’s work session follows a 6 p.m. voting meeting at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre, with instructions for the remote attendance option posted under council’s online meetings link at

Tax abatement

Wilkes-Barre is asking the county to forgive $1,136 in delinquent taxes on a Carey Avenue property the city has acquired with plans to dedicate the real estate to Habitat for Humanity, the agenda said.

The county taxes were owed from 2001 through 2007. Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District have agreed to abate back taxes owed to them, the agenda said.

County forgiveness would be conditioned on the city transferring ownership to Habitat for Humanity, it said.

Children and Youth

The county agency is seeking council approval to change its name from Luzerne County Children and Youth Services to Luzerne County Children, Youth and Families.

This new name “is a more appropriate reflection of the agency’s mission, vision and values that it strives to obtain,” the proposed resolution says.

Katrina Gownley, who has been overseeing the agency since February 2023, said the proposed change stemmed largely from the county’s selection to participate in the state’s “Family Engagement Initiative” through the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

This program increases collaboration between the agency and judiciary to “enhance meaningful family involvement in the child welfare system.”

If a child is at risk of entering foster care, this program works to identify all relatives willing to provide support so the child may remain at home or with relatives they know instead of strangers, she said. Research shows children often experience trauma when they are placed with strangers, Gownley said.

“We’re focused on expanding the connections of the families,” she said.

Transportation subsidy

The county Transportation Authority is seeking an $830,104 local match from the county required to obtain $8.14 million in state operating assistance funds for the 2024-25 fiscal year, the agenda said.

In a letter to the authority, Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Public Transportation noted this allocation has not increased, but an adjustment is possible.

State Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 state budget would provide an additional $1.5 billion in operating funds for transit agencies across the state over the next five years, it said.

This proposal must be passed by legislators as part of the state budget. If that occurs, the county transportation authority’s allocation would increase by approximately $1.9 million, the letter said, noting the local match may change as a result of budget negotiations.

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


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