Monday, September 26, 2011

Letter to NuPo: Cut Back on County Spending Before Cuts are Forced on Us

The following was submitted by Tim Mullen, candidate for Luzerne County Council:
Structural deficiencies in our national economy guarantee us a lower standard of living. The greatest crisis of the last 70 years was greeted with the solution to "just go shopping."

Government and households have spent beyond their means. Luzerne County took the lead and is saddled with a debt approaching a half billion dollars.

The time has come to pay the piper. I am the one candidate that will tell you everything you don't want to hear. We can face our fate head on now by voluntarily sacrificing, or unpleasant changes will be forced upon us in the near future.

Some have accused me of used tired old sound bites such as "no tax increases" or "no more borrowing." I am one candidate that will "walk the walk" not just "talk the talk." As promised in past writings I will offer solutions, not empty rhetoric.

As your county council member I would ensure that we have another layer of checks and balances by restoring the powers lost by the county controller under the new charter. This can be done by legislating into the administrative code the ability of the controller to review purchases and contracts prior to approval of the executive branch (county manager). This can be done without violating the covenants of the charter.

The council has no control over hiring and firing within the courts, but it does have the ability to approve the court's budget. It may have been forgotten, but it is the taxpayers that mandate how much it requires to run the courts, not the courts themselves. Luzerne County courts are now overstaffed 20-25 percent more than similar sized counties.

I would advocate for a budget in line with similar sized counties.
I am not a lawyer and I have no relationship with the courts.
I am a taxpayer advocate.

Let it be up to the courts to decide whether the money should be spent on personnel or paper clips and how much of each.

Cost analysis of each department will be done by the controller's office, not department heads under the charter. Department heads will always ask for more than they would ever need. It will be, however, up to the council to hold the controller's feet to the fire to ensure that performance audits are done in a timely fashion.

Implement into the administrative code that audits will be done by different auditors in a two year rotating schedule versus the present system which allows a cozy relationship to develop between the auditor and the audited.

I have only scratched the surface in looking for ways to run a leaner more efficient county government. Yes there may be cutbacks in county services as well as county personnel. I reiterate, it is best to do so now while we have some say in the matter rather than when it is forced upon us.

Tim Mullen
Kingston Township
Candidate for Luzerne County Council
To read more of Tim's writings, go to

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