Commissioners set decisions on two hot-button issues

The Lycoming County Commissioners are hinting they will handle two hot potato issues before the first month of 2018 ends – the future of the White Deer Golf Complex and a new re-entry contract.

In the case of the golf complex, it has been a community asset for decades, giving golfers in our region access to a quality golf course without the need for an exclusive membership.

The rub is that this has been done as a county-run operation, with taxpayers beholden to the budgetary failures.

The commissioners have put a private entity in charge of the golf complex operation, but the county still pays a total of about $24,000 per year on debts owed by the complex. And even if the county sold the golf complex, it would still have to pay off its line of credit.

In our view, the commissioners must find a way to make the complex a zero-cost item in the county budget, either by pushing Billy Casper Golf to turn that trick or finding someone else who can. Otherwise, the commissioners should look to sell the golf complex to someone in that business or someone interested in other uses of what is a very valuable property.

The re-entry service center operation is a different matter.

One of the major goals of the center has been achieved.

The prison population has been reduced to the point where the Lycoming County Prison has been able to house federal inmates at an income of $55 per inmate per day.

With that daily cost expected to increase and federal inmate population there remaining steady, the county could make $220,000 in revenue this year, about 31 percent of the day reporting budget.

So the decision on who should operate the re-entry service center comes down to who can more effectively execute the rehabilitative goals of the program, which must be met to cut down on repeat offenders and produce quality members of the community.

The incumbent GEO Group is offering its services at a higher cost than Firetree Limited, but Firetree received a lower grade from the committee tasked with reviewing each company’s proposal.

The commissioners are correct to address both these issues quickly in 2018 and need to make decisions that fit the needs of county taxpayers and residents in each case.