LAWRENCE COUNTY Recycling-bin purchases hinge on repayment date



Commissioners plan to meet with department heads to cut costs.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County's drop-off recycling program will expand only if state officials agree to repay the county's expenses by year's end.
County commissioners agreed Tuesday to buy 28 recycling bins if they can get something in writing from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stating it will repay the county $180,462 before Dec. 31.
Recycling director Amy Labi-Carando said she must get the approval this week because the bin manufacture has said his price is good only until Friday.
The county has a $1 million state grant to get the program off the ground but must pay expenses first out of the county general fund and then get reimbursed.
Cash-strapped county commissioners say they can't afford to wait until next year to get the grant money if they front the cash from the county's general fund.
They learned last month that the county faces a $1.3 million deficit by year's end if expenses aren't cut or revenues increased. Another $1 million is owed to the state from a 2002 loan the county never repaid to the mental health/mental retardation budget -- a budget made up largely of state and federal funds.
State officials have indicated that the county could take up to 10 years to repay the money without interest.
What's sought
Commissioners are still trying to find the extra $1.3 million needed to end this year.
Last week they talked about stopping travel and training for all employees unless it was necessary for the job. They are also looking at other cost-cutting measures.
Labi-Carando had asked commissioners to order more recycling bins because all 60 that were manufactured last year are promised to various municipalities. More communities are asking for the bins and some are needed to take to special events such as fairs and as replacements for damaged bins.
Labi-Carando had to ask for new bids because the original manufacturer, Thompson Fabricating of Wheatland, said rising steel prices have increased their costs. Thompson was the only bidder for the second set of bins, and the price had nearly doubled to $4,746 per bin. Last year 64 bins were built at a cost of $2,317 per bin.
The blue metal bins are used to collect aluminum, paper, cardboard and plastics. They are now available at the Pulaski and Hickory township municipal buildings and at Wal-Mart in Union Township.
Other matters
In other business, commissioners learned that they will be saving money this year on jury selection mailings. Jury Commissioner Wayne Yoho said President Judge Dominick Motto has agreed to let them combine the Juror Qualification Questionnaire and jury summons into one mailing. Currently those items are mailed out separately, he said.
Yoho said they mail out 1,500 questionnaires a month and 800 summons. The combined system will allow them to mail a total of 1,400 pieces of mail. He said it costs about $1 per piece of mail and they expect to save about $900 a month on mailings. Yoho said the change should take effect in September.
cioffi@vindy.com

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