MERCER GOVERNMENT Ex-director to get $8,000 to draft budget

The former district justice building in Greenville is being sold for $25,000.
MERCER, Pa. -- The former director of Mercer County Children and Youth Services was hired by Mercer County commissioners Thursday to prepare next year's CYS budget on a $8,000 consulting contract.
Commissioners approved the contract with Beverly Burrows, who recently resigned her post, to prepare the mandated application that will bring about $8 million in state and federal funds into the county. The remaining $1 million of the CYS budget comes from the county.
Commissioners are in the process of interviewing candidates for a new CYS director. They said that none of the supervisors in the CYS office had prepared the budget before and that this year the department is undergoing a complicated realignment.
Commissioner Olivia Lazor said she tried to get other consultants but all those contacted declined because of lack of experience with Mercer County. The plan is expected to take 200 to 250 hours to prepare, Lazor said.
For sale
Also, commissioners said that while the transaction is not final, the county is selling the former district justice offices in Greenville for $25,000. Former Commission Chief Clerk Kenneth Ammann commented that an offer for $40,000 was turned down by commissioners 18 months ago. Commissioner Michele Brooks said, however, that the initial offer from R.G. Wallace Sr., was turned down because it was lower than the appraised value of $77,000. She said commissioners followed the advice of their solicitor so they could pursue a process which would have allowed the sale. However the offer was withdrawn before that could happen.
The buyer, who Commissioner Brian Beader said is a relative of Wallace, will also have to do repairs to the building under the new agreement. In the last potential sale, the county would have also been liable for repairs, said fiscal administrator John Logan.
Also, Dale Hawes of Hempfield Township criticized the election office for paying Lois Unangst $76 for one day's work for helping with the final tallying of votes from the primary election. Hawes said the fact that Unangst is an active Republican raises questions. But Thomas Rookey said that Unangst had put in many free days helping with the tally, as did other volunteers of both parties. While he started with several dozen volunteers helping to check more than 19,000 paper ballots for write-in votes, he ended up with only a few. He said his paid staff was working Saturdays and evenings until 9, and he offered to pay the three remaining volunteers to help finish the job. Two other volunteers declined because of an out-of-town wedding and Unangst was the only one available, he said.
Commissioner Olivia Lazor, a Democrat, commented that all three commissioners, including the two Democrats, approved the action. She said the temporary hiring "did not jeopardize or compromise the two-party system."
Cell phone 911 upgrade
Commissioners also announced that county will receive $959,000 in Phase I money for equipping the Emergency 911 center to pinpoint locations of cell phone callers. The money comes from a tax imposed on cell phones and is funneled through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. In addition, PEMA has allowed $300,000 in consulting fees for the project. The money will come in quarterly payments beginning in July. There was no estimate on when the service will be up and running.
In other action, commissioners did the following:
UEntered into an agreement with National Fuel Resources, Inc., Chagrin Falls, Ohio, renewing the contract for supply of natural gas to the courthouse from July 2005 to July 2006 at an increase of about 15 percent.
UHired Janis Coryea of Grove City and Sarah Swartz of Hadley, both as caseworkers for Children and Youth Services, at $26,555 each per year; Mary Pepe of Hermitage and Jessica Hodge, whose address was unavailable, as part-time clerical assistants in the Recorder's office at $9.25 per hour and Robert Bain II of Hermitage as law clerk in Judge Christopher St. John's chambers at $30,458 per year.

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