Commissioners hear SCRC plans; respond to spending questions about Act 13 funds

Susquehanna County will soon see the creation of a mixed use recreational center planned for Kingsley Twp., Susquehanna County Recreation Center representative Ashley Twining Kilmer told commissioners last Wednesday.

“We want to increase health and wellness opportunities for Susquehanna County families and all sort of individuals.  We just announced that we’re moving forward in the Kingsley location.  This is a big step for us.  We’re very excited,” Kilmer told commissioners.

“We are looking for partners financially as well, so we’re going to need to have a private component to this,” Kilmer said. “We’re going to launch a capital campaign once our budget is back.  We’re going to need some public funding as well.  We’re looking to see what part maybe the commissioners want to play in the success of this facility.” 

Kilmer explained that the recreational center would feature meeting rooms, a walking track, an indoor turf area and a fitness center. 

She emphasized that the proposed center would not be “just for kids” but would also be open to seniors looking for an indoor place just to walk in the colder months or to play cards and connect with people.

The Susquehanna County Recreation Center is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization which accepts tax deductible donations.   The group can be reached on its Facebook page, its website and on Instagram, Kilmer said. (See more about the SCRC’s plans in the related story on this page.)

Terry Rockwell, the father of Dana Rockwell, a Republican candidate for county commissioner, stood to ask Commissioner Alan Hall about an April 8 early morning Facebook post Hall made in which he accused Bootstrap campaign members of engaging in “bullying” tactics.  The younger Rockwell is a member of the Bootstrap campaign which is running four candidates for the three contested commissioners’ spots.

Hall’s Facebook post read:  “To all my supporters who put up signs over the weekend and those of you putting signs up….. Please beware, I’m getting calls that the “Bootstrap Campaign” is out bullying… “Neighbors helping neighbors!”

“Can anyone give me an example of that?” the elder Rockwell asked, directing his question at Hall.

“Unfortunately this is a commissioners’ meeting and we don’t do politics in commissioners’ meetings,” Hall responded.  “This is not a political platform,” Hall said.

Hall offered to meet the Rockwells after the meeting to discuss the issue but by the time the meeting broke the Rockwells had left for another engagement.

Before they left, Dana Rockwell, the candidate, asked about the status of the Act 13 fund balance, referring to a formal Right To Know request he had made for that information for the years 2012-2019.

Hall responded, saying that the PUC’s reporting function only requires counties to report what uses Act 13 monies are put to during the year they have been received.  Instead, Hall explained, because Susquehanna County puts its Act 13 monies towards the following year’s budget, determining what money received in 2018 was used for in 2019 would require an extremely detailed analysis.

Hall said Act 13 funds used in the  ways allowed by the legislation, made room in the county budget to fund other areas, including about $10 million in renovations spent to make county facilities Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and $13 million expended to make up a deficit in the county’s pension fund.    Hall invited Rockwell to submit another RTK request.

“All that was done of course without raising taxes or borrowing money,” Hall said. 

 In other business, Hall said he would be contacting the state Public Utilities Commission regarding recurring problems obtaining quality Internet service in the county.

“Internet service in this county has been a disaster for a long time,” Hall said, encouraging others experiencing similar problems to also contact the PUC.

Hall also said that the county has sent out requests for proposals for the installation of a dark fiber loop, an alternative to broadband for Internet delivery service.

However, Hall pointed out that the project would stretch into the millions to install and will require a public private partnership to accomplish.

“We’ve been working on that.  We’ve been working on that for some time now,” he said.

In other business, commissioners:

*Announced the hiring of Robert Hyde as the new chief county clerk at a salary of $55,000 a year up to $60,000 after completion six-month probation period.  Hyde replaces former chief clerk Marty Kane, who resigned earlier this year.

*Announced the hiring of Rebecca Westcott as the first deputy treasurer/tax claim at a salary of $35,000 a year.

*Accepted with regret resignation of Brian James from position of human resources administrative coordinator.

*Recognized county maintenance worker Rolly Brink for 25 years of service.

*Confirmed, as a result of a question from Bill Bayne of Liberty Twp., the scheduled May 3 visit by PennDot secretary Leslie Richards for a four hour tour. 

“We’ll be doing a tour of the county and showing her the roads.  It’s been a long time coming to get her here to see what deplorable conditions the roads are in,” Hall said.  Richards’ schedule also includes stops in Tioga and then Sullivan counties.

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