One day after Lackawanna County commissioners announced that a 38 percent tax increase will stay for property owners, they announced they are establishing a new Department of Economic Development, and they have put aside a half million dollars to pay for it.
In one of their first moves since being elected last fall, the Lackawanna County commissioners announced the creation of eight new county positions with the goal of creating jobs across the county.
Democratic Majority Commissioners Jim Wansacz and Corey O'Brien said some of those new positions will make up the Department of Economic Development.
The new positions will cost the county a half million dollars, but they said that money will not be an additional cost for taxpayers.
"We feel that it's not just budget neutral. It's encouraging, it's progressive, and it's a measure that we need to do in order to create those jobs," Commissioner O'Brien said.
The county eliminated 12 vacant jobs in order to pay for the new department. It will work very much like other economic developers in northeastern Pennsylvania, but, the commissioners said, the extra effort is necessary.
"This office is going to be working together, not just with the Scranton Chamber, but with all the other private economic developers out there," Commissioner Wansacz added.
He said the county is currently working to fill positions in the new department. The hires could include people from out of state. Their job will be to attract business to Lackawanna County, something agencies, including the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, have done for years. Those other local economic developers said Lackawanna County's new department will be valuable.
"If it were considered another initiative, it's a much needed initiative, and the thoughtfulness that went into it at this point convinces me that they are not wasting any dollars," said Chamber President Austin Burke.
Commissioners Wansacz and O'Brien said they hope to have the new county positions filled within the next two months.