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Susquehanna County's 78 pensioned employees came in for an unexpected holiday bonus last week when the county Retirement Board agreed to increase the county's contribution to their health insurance by $55 a month. The total amount that will be paid by the county will be $215 a month, reducing the retirees portion to $12.
Earlier this month, the commissioners said they did not budget for a cost of living allowance (COLA) for its retired employees because it would have led to a tax increase. However, the commissioners have since learned that refinancing one of the county's bonded indebtedness will result in an interest savings for 2003. Most of that money, $51,480, will be applied to the individual monthly health insurance premiums.
"This is a one-time deal," Commissioner Lee Smith said of the interest savings. "Next year we will have to work it into the budget."
County Treasurer Cathy Benedict, who sits on the Retirement Board, said applying an additional $55 toward the monthly insurance premiums is better than giving the retirees a cost of living allowance. She pointed out that the insurance premium money is not taxable while a COLA would be taxable.
"The retirees will only be paying $12 and change a month," said Mrs. Benedict. "I would like to see it so that each retiree will not pay anything out of pocket for their individual health insurance. If the pension fund is doing well, perhaps we can do that."
While the retirees will get reimbursed about 94 1/2 percent of their monthly health insurance premium, any dependents enrolled in the program must pay the full amount. Contrary to what had been stated at a Retirement Board meeting earlier this month, the retirees did receive a cost of living allowance in 2002.
In a related matter, the commissioners re-opened the 2003 budget and increased it by the amount needed to pay the additional health insurance premiums. While the budget total sets a new spending record for the county, it does not require any tax increase. In 2004, the real estate tax rate will remain at 9.75 mills.
Motions approved by the Board of Commissioners and the Salary Board completed the following actions:
-Appointed Commissioner Lee Smith to be the county representative to the Endless Mountains RCD Executive Council for 2003.
-Appointed Jerry Cronk as Susquehanna County Housing Authority Director for a five-year-term beginning January 1, 2003.
-Appointed Rita Fischer to the open position of secretary in the Adult Probation Department and, at a Salary Board meeting, agreed to keep her hourly pay rate at $9.64, as per union contract.
-Agreed to give all non-union employees a four percent annual increment effective January 1, 2003.
-Created a new adult probation/parole officer position at $13.20 per hour per recommendation of President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans.
-Created a new full-time clerk position in the Sheriff's Department at a starting salary of $9.34 an hour.
When the Susquehanna County Planning Commission met on December 17, they voted to meet in 2003 on the last Tuesday of each month, with the exception of December when the meeting date will be December 16. They also concurred that if schools are closed on that day because of inclement weather, the meeting will also be canceled and moved to the next day at the regular meeting time. A workshop will be held at the Montrose House at 5:30 P.M., followed by the 7:30 P.M. meeting at the County Office Building. Both meetings are open to the public.
Ted Place, chairman of the Planning Commission, appointed Matt Curley, Nancy Harvatine, and Joseph Franks to the nominating committee which will present a slate of officers at the January meeting. Frank Kwader, Paula Mattes and Rowland Sharp were appointed as auditors.
Planning Director Robert Templeton reported that his office is working on the annual report and continuing work on the update of the County Comprehensive Plan. In a gesture of goodwill, the Planning Commission donated $10,000 to the Countys General Fund to be used at the discretion of the County Commissioners. This is money accrued through land use fees. County Commissioner Lee Smith thanked the Commission for its generosity. The Planning Commission kept approximately $15,000 in its own account to be used for expenses that may arise in their office.
The possibility of being taken to court is an underlying concern, and expert legal fees could use up that amount quickly. The need for an attorney who specializes in planning and development law has been brought up in several meetings and in several instances. The Planning Commission now uses the countys solicitor who does not specialize in this area. A motion was made to secure this special representation as needed, but died for lack of a second. Scott Young, owner of the Camp at East Lake, came before the Planning Commission with a complaint that he is losing business to the Flying J, Inc. Travel Plaza and other businesses which accommodate overnight stays of recreational vehicles. He says that, while he is in compliance with the land use provisions of the County Comprehensive Plan, he feels that several other businesses are not. He stated that Flying J is offering free overnight parking as a perk for customers to buy other services of food, fuel and shopping. Young said he had looked at their plan that was passed by the Planning Commission and it did not state that they would be using this lot for overnights. He further stated that if you maintain a facility for accommodation of transients, it meets the ordinance definition of a campground. His other concern is that some of their designated parking spots do not meet the countys laws in regard to size and make for dangerous conditions as the vehicles maneuver in the lots.
This was not the first time Young had addressed his concerns with the Planning Commission. He referred to a letter dated October 23 in which Planning Director Robert Templeton stated that on the recommendation of County Solicitor Michael Giangrieco, the Commission would not address the situation with Flying J at this time. This was what prompted the motion to hire an attorney who specializes in land use law.
Chairman Ted Place said he would appoint a committee to look into compliance. He asked Commission members to do their homework by checking the Flying J web site to see what they were advertising in relation to camping, and to be alert as to how long particular vehicles were remaining in the parking lot.
Several individual land use plans were approved at the recommendation of the staff, and one was tabled for not meeting necessary criteria at this time.
Manuel Diaz Jr., 43, Harford Township, and Betsy Jo Balmer, 34, Harford Township.
Scott Andrew Stonier, 24, Great Bend Township, and Debra A. Holveck, 45, Great Bend Township.
Robert Joseph Nemec, 41, Auburn Township, and Helena C. Vandemark, 34, Auburn Township.
Robert Joseph Lang, 47, Great Bend Township, and Helene S. Corrado, 42, Great Bend Township.
Sean Eric Lewis, 25, Hallstead Borough, and Marsha Darlene Miles, 27, Hallstead Borough.
Margaret A. Kittleson to Timothy B. Long and Margaret A. Kittleson in Middletown Township for $1.
Joan Del Vecchio, Richard Del Vecchio and Judy Del Vecchio and Thomas Del Vecchio to George Miguelez and Barbara Miguelez in Thompson Township for $23,640.
Eugene W. Snow and Debra J. Snow to Debra J. Snow in Great Bend Township for $1.
Elizabeth Nykun to Gary A. Nagy, Sr. in Middletown Township for $270,000.
Ernest D. Olszewski and Kathy Olszewski to Kathy Olszewski in Franklin Township for $1.
William B. Lopatofsky and Betty Lou Lopatofsky to Gary E. Johnson and Shirley E. Johnson in Dimock Township for $85,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Alderdice, Inc. in Dimock Township for $40,100.
Kimberly E. Mundy & Michael C. Mundy to Elbert C. Seamans & Carol May Seamans in Harford Township for $1.
Stephen N. Lawrenson, Executor of the James W. Beebe estate to Michele Adam in Oakland Township for $79,000.
Sarah G. Lord to Raymond L. Osterhout and Wanda S. Osterhout in Great Bend Borough for $45,000.
Edward Dietzel to Robert H. Burchell and Wanda M. Burchell in New Milford Township for $3,000.
Eugene J. Swetter and Maureen A. Swetter to G. B. M. Partners, LLP, in Clifford Township for easement agreement.
Robert McAndrew and Marian McAndrew to James Pettinato and Carol Ann Pettinato in Clifford Township for $21,000.
David Bishop and Barbara J. Bishop and James Bishop and Loretta Bishop to John E. Buffamonte in Great Bend Township for $20,000.
The Nature Conservancy to David T. Baker and Wendy D. Baker in Thompson Township for $13,800.
Howard Rosen and Mark Bennett to Mark D. Carmody and Robin A. Carmody in Thompson Borough for $135,000.
The Nature Conservancy to David T. Baker and Wendy D. Baker in Thompson Township for $9,200.
Bankers Trust Company, N. A. to Kevin L. Mitchell and Karen M. Mitchell in Rush Township for 33,000.
Douglas Hine and Louise Hine to Rondale Corp. in Ararat and Gibson Townships for $30,000.
T. Jane Griffis to T. Jane Griffis, Carol E. Peckens, Betty J. Brunges and James R. Griffis in Montrose Borough for $1.
William A. Lewis and Marcia Lewis to George T. Meekins and Helen Meekins in Ararat Township for $218,000.
Thomas O. Motter and Arlene A. Motter to George Levan in Lathrop Township for $15,000.
Margaret V. Rockey to Ron Madden and Kathleen Madden in Herrick Township for $21,000.
Roger C. Root and Joan Root to Roger C. Root and Joan Root in Liberty Township for $1 ogvc.
Easements for GPU from: C. Geoffrey Cook, Bruce T. Cook and Darryl Cook tadba Choconut Development LLC in Choconut Township; George E. Leber III and Linda M. Leber in Thompson Township; Lauren A. Darrow and Thelma Darrow in New Milford Township; Michael C. Solomon and Mary Louise Solomon in Jackson Township; Joseph A. Monteforte in New Milford Township; William Cassidy and Ruth Cassidy in Ararat Township; Charles A. Crasten and Elizabeth A. Crasten in Ararat Township; John David Szuch in Ararat and Herrick Townships; Ronald C. Polley and Marion R. Polley in Forest Lake Township; Mary J. Monteforte and Ireno Monteforte in New Milford Township.
Nelson E. Kellogg and Claudia Kellogg to the Nelson E. and Claudia R. Kellogg Living Trust in Hallstead Borough for no consideration for quit-claim deed (2 parcels).
Tax Claim Bureau to Adia Ahmed and Farheen Masood in Great Bend Borough for $4035 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $58,473).
Lawrence T. O'Reilly and Christine M. O'Reilly and Thomas J. O'Reilly to David Noakes, Jr. and Kathleen Noakes in Lenox Township for $113,000.
Thomas L. Miller, Jr. and Betty Anne Mller to Brian Lee Sudbrink and Monica Ruth Sudbrink in Jackson Township for $112,000.
Hansey, Inc. to John E. Tait & Erlane D. Tait in New Milford Township for $1.
Keith Schweppenheiser; Brian Schweppenheiser and Victoria Schweppenheiser; Susan Leone and Lucus Leone; and Deborah Peters in Lenox Township for $1 ogvc (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $4,161).
Charles P. Duffy and Rita Duffy to Benjamin Usatch and Robin M. Usatch in Herrick Township for $125,000.
On December 8 at 2:10 a.m., Willard Donnelly, Lenoxville, was traveling too fast on State Route 374 near Lake Idlewild, Clifford Township, and lost control of his 1985 Mercury Lynx, striking a telephone pole with the right front side of the vehicle. The vehicle then struck a tree. No injuries were noted.
Stephen P. Lukoskie, 20, Easton, MD, was traveling north on Interstate 81, Lenox Township, and lost control of his 1996 Saab which left the roadway, striking a sign, then flipped over. The incident occurred on December 26 at 2:15 p.m. Lukoskie who was transported to Barnes-Kasson Hospital, Susquehanna, for minor injuries, was cited for careless driving, according to the police report.
On December 14 between 6:00 p.m. and 9:35 p.m., Albert Baker, Susquehanna, was involved in a traffic accident and left the scene without notifying police. According to the police report, Baker lost control of a 1984 Chevy Blazer, on snow covered State Route 171, half mile north of State Route 1004, Harmony Township. The vehicle crossed over the northbound lane, went to the east berm and struck a tree, causing the vehicle to flip over.
According to the police report, charges will be filed for numerous traffic violations.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Karl Troutman, 45, New Columbia, in a 1994 Peterbilt, and Lori Newcomb, 42, Champaign, IL, in a 1995 Toyota Corolla were each traveling north on Interstate 81, New Milford Township, on December 23 at 6:42 p.m. The two vehicles made contact while traveling alongside one another. Newcomb's vehicle spun and was pushed by the other into the median. No injuries were reported.
Michael S. Fitzpatrick, Uniondale, was traveling on State Route 171, south of State Route 2010, Clifford Township. He was driving too fast for the snow covered roadway and lost control of his 1992 Jeep Wrangler, hitting a utility pole, and flipping onto its roof.
According to the police report, charges were to be filed for DUI in District Court #3, along with other traffic violations. The incident occurred on December 11 at 12:51 a.m.
MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION
On December 9 at 8:00 a.m., Brian S. Decker, Jr., RR5, Montrose, was driving a 1988 Chevy S-10 pick-up southbound on State Route 3023, Rush Township, while Stacey Chapman, RR4, Montrose, was driving a 1991 Dodge Daytona in the same direction, with Chapman in front of Decker. Decker could not see Chapman's vehicle due to glare from the sun and Decker struck Chapman's vehicle in the rear. Chapman was injured, while Decker was not. Three passengers in the Chapman vehicle, Patty Gerchak and Christina Gerchak both of RR2, Meshoppen, and Samantha Kerpouich, RR4, Montrose, sustained minor injuries. No information about treatment was available on the report.
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