County will pay golf course debt

The Lycoming County commissioners approved Thursday a payment of up to $439,000 for the White Deer Golf Complex from non-taxpayer monies.

The commissioners said the money owed has to be paid, one way or another, even if the golf course is sold, so they’re choosing to pay it now to save money in the long run, due to annual fees of $24,000 or more.

“It’s a prudent decision,” said Commissioner Rick Mirabito.

To avoid using taxpayer dollars to pay down the debt, the commissioners hope to use impact fee monies and are waiting on advice from their solicitor to verify if that would be a legal use of those funds. They said other options are available as well and they know that legacy funds can be used at least in part.

County funds that go toward the golf course will be reimbursed, said Commissioner Tony Mussare.

“Any of the monies that are used to pay off the past debt will be replenished by our contingency plan if the golf course cannot make it,” Mussare said. “We anticipate that this golf course will turn a profit. In that case, part of those profits will pay back anything that we put aside to carry this through. It will reimburse the county taxpayers.”

Mussare added that, if it ever seems the golf course can’t get by without subsidy from the county, part of it will be sold off.

In another matter, the commissioners approved the annual certification of funds for the Ag Preservation Program.

Mark Davidson, conservation district manager, said the county allocation for the program amounts to $56,323 with $25,000 coming from general funds, $25,000 in program fees and $6,323 coming from interest collected on cleaning green rollback tax penalties.

“We anticipate that this amount is going to return approximately $278,000 to the county for a total 2018 budget of approximately $333,000 or somewhere in that ballpark,” Davidson said.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Presented job well done awards to the planning department’s Josh Schnitzlein, hazard mitigation planner, and Deb Bennett, administrative support supervisor, for their efforts in completing flood buyouts leading up to the holidays. The commissioners also congratulated Schnitzlein for becoming a certified floodplain manager.

• Approved a professional service agreement with George Jr. Republic to provide residential, special needs and other services for the juvenile probation office with no rate increase over last fiscal year.

• Approved an agreement with CVS Caremark for prescription benefit services for retirees. The services are not exclusive to CVS pharmacies, and present a savings both to retirees as well as the county, the commissioners said.

• Approved the following hires for positions not to exceed 1,000 hours annually: Christopher Salisbury as a part-time replacement special detective for the DUI Processing Center at $15.64 per hour effective Tuesday; Alisha M. Fields as a part-time replacement clerk in the district attorney’s office at $10.94 per hour effective Tuesday; Brandy L. Perchinski as a part-time replacement female resident supervisor in the Pre-Release Center at $14.14 per hour effective Jan. 22; Arlene L. Lopez and Karla A. Hanner as part-time replacement pre-release drivers at $12.96 per hour effective Tuesday.

In addition to Mussare and Mirabito, Commissioner Jack McKernan was present. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Executive Plaza.