County approves $11 million bond request

The Lycoming County commissioners voted to enact an ordinance Thursday allowing the county to initiate a bond not to exceed $11 million, including interest rate and fees, to help pay for the construction of Field 12 at the county landfill, aid in leachate management and more.

The bond will be paid off by Resource Management Services’ tipping fees, not using taxpayer dollars, said Jason Yorks, director of county resource management. The bond will have a 20-year term.

Chris Brewer, of Dinsmore and Shohl, bond counsel for the county, said the county is practicing “smart tax planning” by enacting the bond by the end of 2017. He explained that every county has the opportunity to submit for a $10 million bond each year.

“We can start the clock for approval in Harrisburg … and schedule you for closing about Dec. 28 — just in time,” Brewer said. “If you do that, and you have any further needs for borrowing next year, you’ll have another $10 million opportunity to work with on the tax laws.”

The commissioners also voted to extend a contract with West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, allowing the organization to continue providing addiction counseling to inmates in the county prison on a voluntary basis. The services will cost about $67,000 for the year, said Chris Ebner, deputy warden of inmate services.

Commissioner Tony Mussare, who has expressed concerns about paying for this venture due to limited funding for county programming, told Ebner he would vote in favor of the extension in exchange for closely kept data provided at the end of the contract term.

“I want the raw data,” Mussare said. “That will prove its value.”

“We spend a lot of money on people who aren’t serious about this and that’s my main concern,” he added.

The program first started in April. Ebner said they are starting to collect data now and it wouldn’t be a problem to provide more detailed information at the end of 2018.

In another matter, the commissioners approved a change to the Community Development Block Grant program, switching South Williamsport’s funding to a different project.

South Williamsport originally was granted $16,437 to improve a neighborhood playground on West Second Avenue. However, it was found the project did not meet the requirements of the block grant. Instead, this money will be used for Seventh Avenue reconstruction.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Awarded a contract to Tetra Tech for the Muncy Resiliency Plan in the amount of $250,000 from Department of Community and Economic Development funds. Tetra Tech will be tasked with writing the resiliency plan as well as developing a resiliency coalition, said Josh Schnitzlein, hazard mitigation planner.

• Amended an agreement with DNA Diagnostics Center Inc. for parentage testing, extending it to Dec. 31, 2018. No tax dollars are spent on this service.

• Amended an agreement with Chaplain Andrew France for pastorial counseling services in the prison, extending it to Dec. 31, 2018. No tax dollars are spent on this service.

• Approved a professional service agreement with Pennsylvania College of Technology for use of Penn College students in the construction of a shed/garage at the Pre-Release Center. Materials will be paid for with impact fee funds.

• Awarded a contract for aggregate material in the amount of $1.02 million to Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. for construction of field 12 at the landfill.

• Approved Roxanne N. Myers as a full-time replacement clerk at $13.95 per hour and reclassified Frank J. Passaniti as a full-time veterans affairs assistant at $18.08 per hour, both effective Monday.

Commissioners Mussare, Rick Mirabito and Jack McKernan were present. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, during which the commissioners expect to take action on a finalized 2018 budget. There will be no meeting Tuesday.