Rescue plan

Luzerne County U.S. Bailout Allocations

LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Luzerne County officials have allocated nearly $30 million in U.S. bailout money among the county’s most pressing needs.

This is only a fraction of what the county will receive from the US bailout. The Council delayed making decisions until it had a final decision on federal spending guidelines. On Tuesday night, they discussed US bailout spending for small businesses, technology, prison repairs and the Water Street Bridge.

On Tuesday night, Luzerne County Council voted on how they should spend $29.74 million of US bailout funds based on recommendations from acting county executive Romilda Crocamo. But first, several county officials and members of the public have urged the board to proceed with caution, until the county hires a permanent manager.

“There’s $25 million, it’s not… That our acting county manager, Romilda Crocamo, is distributing it as she wishes. She is acting county executive,” Ted Fitzgerald said.

The Board voted to table the resolution to use $20 million in ARP funds for small businesses and $5 million for nonprofits. This would have given Greater Hazleton Can Do, the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce and Penn’s Northeast responsibility for distributing the money.

Council passed a resolution to use $2.5 million for information technology projects. Most of this goes to virtual infrastructure upgrades, followed by cybersecurity, then networking equipment.

“We need to support IT if we hope to be successful,” said board member Tim McGinley.

The Board then authorized $1.5 million for repairs to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. Corrections Division Chief Mark Rockovich said they needed the money to replace the outdated fire panel system, replace the elevators and replace the roof. Next, $750,000 to inspect the century-old Water Street Bridge.

But county engineer Larry Plesh said the inspection will tell them whether the bridge can be repaired and reopened with a weight limit, or whether it should remain closed. Plesh said it’s unlikely the bridge can be repaired. Council voted to table it.

“In my opinion, it would be better spent…putting down the money and pushing for the replacement and getting PennDOT’s response on what direction they’re going with their bridge and going in that direction,” Plesh said.

Luzerne County receives $113 million from the US bailout.