Gridlocked: $20M loan will keep Luzerne County government open

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 1, 2015 8:26 AM

(Wilkes Barre) -- A judge has signed off on a $20 million loan to keep a northeastern Pennsylvania county afloat while officials wait for a state budget impasse to end.

Luzerne County needs the loan to offset $22 million in state reimbursements the county hasn't received while Republican state lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf haggle over a budget that was supposed to be passed five months ago.

County officials have told Common Pleas Judge Thomas Burke Jr. the $3.8 million left in the general fund isn't enough to pay the county's 1,800 employees through year's end.

The judge was required by law to sign off on the loan plan approved by the county commissioners last week.

The state will repay the lender directly once a budget is passed.

The move is another example of the strain counties are under, due to the impasse.

Bucks County, one of the largest counties in the commonwealth, says it collects between $4 million and $5 million a month for the state.

For now, it plans to hold on to most of that money.

Northampton County has also talked about a similar move.

Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste, who is also head of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, says others are looking at cutting the state off just like Bucks.

The association is also considering a lawsuit against the state.


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