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Luzerne County Council OK’s Loan, Motion to Suspend County Manager Withdrawn

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WILKES-BARRE -- With no state budget in place, Luzerne County is quickly running out of cash.

So Tuesday night, in a vote of 6 to 5, the Luzerne County Council voted to borrow up to $20 million to get through the end of the year, without closing county offices or laying off county workers.

The county may be responsible for some interest on that loan, but the state agreed to pay the principal cost.

The plan to borrow must now be approved by the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. That could happen next week.

After that vote, the council turned its attention to the embattled county manager, Robert Lawton.

A motion to suspend Lawton was briefly on the table. Council member Rick Morelli made the motion because he said Lawton hasn't been transparent and has been interviewing for other jobs.

But some members of the public spoke out in favor of Lawton and against some members of council.

“There are people that have been working feverishly to embarrass others, purposely confuse others, and generally cause hate and miscontent,” said Charlie Olah of Kingston.

"I think he has done a great job for the citizens of Luzerne County, despite a few individuals who stand up here at the end of every meeting and ridicule him,” said Charles Majikes of Wilkes-Barre.

Then in the midst of the meeting, Morelli withdrew the motion. He says he realized he didn’t have the support of fellow council members.

"I think Mr. Lawton understands where I stand, someone who supported him and backed him and gave him everything I could. Understand where I stand right now, thank you,” said Morelli.

The council members did approve a motion to reprimand Mr. Lawton for "failure" to keep them informed.

They rejected a motion to decrease Lawton’s pay.

Had the council not approved a borrowing plan to pay bills, members may have had to consider a partial county government shutdown and layoffs.

1 Comment

  • J. Hoffa

    Who cares if Lawton was looking for other work, he likely got sick of working with morons like Morelli. As far as the State willing to pay the principal on the loan, “Wolfe” should be paying the interest. This is his shortcoming and the politicians not doing their jobs. It shouldn’t fall back on “US” taxpayers to pay for their lack of work ethic.

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