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What do you think?  Do we need a new prison?  Please go to my "Contact" page and give me your thoughts.

Photos and story by Rick Hiduk

With prison population relatively stable, many people are questioning why a feasibility study was recently conducted for the possible construction of a new correctional facility. Wyoming County commissioner candidate Rick Wilbur posed several questions to commissioner Tom Henry, who chairs the prison board, in response to a story published in last week’s Wyoming County Press Examiner. Among the inaccuracies Henry cited in rumors sparked by the controversial newspaper article, was that the county had paid for the study.

“There has been no cost so far,” Henry asserted. L.R. Kimball, an engineering firm headquartered in Ebensburg, Cambria County, put together a plan for the construction of a new jail in hopes that they might get the contract, Henry concurred. He told the Examiner that a final decision won’t be made until October.

Further fueling the turmoil, Henry noted, was a rumor that the county has been paying $2 million per year, on average, for the outsourcing of inmates. That figure reflects the entire annual budget of the Prison Department, Henry maintained, not the outsourcing, which cost about $189,000 in 2018 and $52,225 as of this past July.

Among the considerations, Henry continued, are the possibility of a smaller staff-to-inmate ratio due to technical advances in security, the possibility of closing off portions of a new facility when they are not needed, and more space to provide services for inmates like substance use disorder treatment.

“It might actually cost less to have a new prison than having prisoners in a jail that doesn’t work,” Henry said of the facility on Stark Street in Tunkhannock built in the 1980s. County land behind the Emergency Operations Center on Route 6 east of Tunkhannock would be the likely location for any new prison.

“Somebody’s going to have to prove that to me,” Wilbur remarked, citing financing figures he had seen in the range of $2.1 million per year at three-and-a-half percent interest. “You know that I’m against it.”

Henry responded that several local banks have expressed a desire to work together to finance the project and bring the interest rate down. “We’re losing money every year, so I have to check it out,” Henry remarked, adding that the estimate from Kimball for the total cost of a new jail ranges from $38 to $42 million.

Issues

Since last winter when I began my campaign, I've been fortunate enough to speak at many functions to express my ideas and thoughts on issues affecting Wyoming County.  Following are reprints of some of my speeches that provide insight into what I believe.  This site is constantly evolving and if there's an issue that I haven't touched on or one that you disagree with, please click on my contact link and let me know.

Factoryville Fire Company Meet and Greet Speech

Good evening.  I’m Rick Wilbur and thank you all for coming….it’s encouraging to see so many concerned residents out tonight.

Six years ago Wyoming County started receiving Act 13 funding from the gas industry and has received about a million a year and $6M total that we never had before.

Two approved uses of these funds are reducing taxes and reducing debt.  In 2015, the county was forced to borrow $4M because our county pension fund was severely underfunded.  As soon as we deposited this money into the pension fund, we immediately stopped funding again and have not made the recommended $850,000 per year deposits in 2016, 17 or 18.

County taxes have increased in each of the last 2 years because of budget shortfalls.  I’ve been an accountant and corporate controller for 40 years and have a pretty good handle on budgets, balance sheets and most things financial and realize we’re headed for major financial problems.

Neighboring counties receive Act 13 money and are planning for the future when this source of funding slows down or disappears.

Sullivan County used Act 13 funds to lower taxes.  Bradford County has almost eliminated their debt and has not had a tax increase in years.  Susquehanna County has lowered taxes and reduced debt.  Here in Wyoming County we raised taxes and borrowed even more.  Does it sound like we’re using our Act 13 funds wisely?

Most of you realize I’ve gotten the reputation as the hard nosed finance guy and that’s very true.  Yes, I AM the finance guy, but one with compassion and a vision for a better Wyoming County.  Without getting our financial house in order, we can’t continue to provide or expand the important services our residents deserve.

I care about our children, the elderly, our veterans and the disadvantaged.  I’m concerned about promoting tourism, agriculture, economic development and bringing new jobs to Wyoming County.  I support the gas industry and am adamantly opposed to an extraction tax. 

The war on opioid use is being fought hard but we still have a long way to go.  The safety and health of our residents is a big concern and I strongly support emergency services and Tyler hospital.

None of these problems or needs can be addressed as needed unless we change our ways.  The days of excessive spending must stop as we go into the future.

You deserve knowledgeable leadership that is fiscally responsible and concentrates on eliminating waste, saving money and not raising taxes.  If elected, I promise to bring financial accountability to Wyoming County and seek answers to the tough questions. 

If you agree, please vote Rick Wilbur, number 5 on your ballot…Together we can build a better Wyoming County.  thank you!

First Public Speech at Lincoln Day Event February 2019

I’m Rick Wilbur and I humbly ask your support to become your next County Commissioner.

As President Lincoln so eloquently said at a Lincoln day event many years ago, Four score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Unfortunately, even though we’re all created equal, our pocketbooks aren’t and many in Wyoming County, especially senior citizens are suffering because of the increases in property taxes we’ve had thrown at us the last two years.

Wyoming County needs knowledgeable leadership that is fiscally responsible and concentrates on eliminating waste, saving money and not raising taxes. 

If your personal expenses increase, can you go to your boss and demand an increase in pay?  Of course you can’t and you must find ways to cut costs.  Why should the county operate any differently?

I pledge that if elected, I’ll bring financial accountability to Wyoming County and seek answers to the tough questions. 

  • Are the fees in our pension plan too high and is it adequately funded?
  • Can we negotiate a better rate on borrowing and why is our tax anticipation note over $2 Million dollars?
  • Are we using all the features in our accounting system to prevent errors, insure that bills are paid on time and not pay late charges?
  • Why is the 2017 outside audit not complete as of today when they should already be working on the 2018 audit?What good will recommendations be that are over a year old?
  • If elected, I will guard your money, look for answers and seek solutions.

I have a Bachelors Degree From Penn State in Accounting and Economics and 40 Years Experience as a Corporate Controller and Accounting Manager.    

I’ve been an Exeter Township Supervisor for over 17 Years. We’ve always been fiscally sound, never received negative audit findings and didn’t need tax anticipation loans.    I was responsible for Over $1,000,000 in Grant Money to my Township and was instrumental assisting home owner buyouts and infrastructure rebuilding after the 2011 floods. 

As a former EMT, Ambulance Captain, Treasurer of the Falls Hose Company, youth coach, and community leader I’ve always been actively involved.

I’ve been a tireless worker for the Republican Party, I’m currently vice chairman, spent hundreds of hours working on Trump’s MAGA run and participate in numerous party functions.  I chaired our annual  golf tournament that raised over $12,000 in two years and was awarded the 2018 Annis Tyler Award for service above self in recognition of those efforts.  I was recently given the honor of being a conferee to pick Congressman Tom Marino’s successor.  Along with 8 other Wyoming County Republicans, I’ll be in Williamsport next weekend participating in this important task.

Being a Commissioner is a full time job and time should be spent every day being accessible to taxpayers, reviewing finances and being a hands on manager.

Wyoming County is devastated by the opioid epidemic, high suicide rate and too many children being raised by their grandparents. I pledge all the resources I can to end this scourge. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but will be open to those who can help with ideas on how to solve these problems.

Economic development is vital to our success. I’ve witnessed the exodus of young talent because of the lack of good paying jobs. We must find new opportunity to keep our youth here rather than seeing them moving away.

We can never forget how important it is to be guardians of our environment and our rural lifestyle by supporting tourism and farming, two of our largest employers.

The position of County Commissioner should not be a lifetime career.  It’s easy to continue with the status quo and not consider change when you’ve been in office for many years.  If Elected, I pledge that I will not serve for more than two terms. 

In the Primary You Can Vote For Two Candidates. Even If You're Already Backing an opponent, I would Appreciate Your Second Vote. If I win, I pledge to work hard, gain your confidence and be Your First Vote in 2023.

If you agree that I have the qualifications needed for this important position, please vote for me, Rick Wilbur.  Together, we can build a better Wyoming County.  Thank you! 

Campaign Announcement Late January 2019

“For the second year in a row, property taxes have increased.  Many taxpayers are on fixed budgets and cannot afford the tax increases that in my opinion, are the result of poor budget management and bad decisions. We need to hold the line on spending and not simply increase taxes because spending is out of control.  With over 40 years of accounting experience, I am the most qualified candidate for this position and I promise to be a steward of your tax money if elected.”

“Being a Commissioner should be a full time job and I plan to treat it that way if elected.  A commissioner should be spending time every day available to taxpayers and reviewing expenditures to insure that spending in all departments is in line and every step possible is being taken to hold down costs.  We can’t have $90,000 in toner cartridges bought and shoved in closets and desk drawers without anyone asking the question why.  We cannot ignore a quarter million dollars in funds that townships and boroughs can use for roads to not get reimbursed by the state because we failed to fill out the paperwork after being reminded numerous times.” 

“I feel that Commissioners should make themselves available to constituents throughout the county and am proposing that Commissioners meet once a month in an informal evening meeting in the townships and boroughs throughout the county.  This gives taxpayers a chance to meet and talk to Commissioners to discuss their concerns.  The opportunity will be given to each local jurisdiction to participate and eventually meetings will be held in every interested one.”

“Wyoming County is devastated by the opioid epidemic and too many grandparents raising their grandchildren, and I pledge to give as much time and resources as possible to end this scourge.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will make myself available to those who can help and have ideas.  I’m encouraged by the D.A.’s office prosecuting dealers with felony homicide charges if the drugs they are dealing results in death.  There are many in our communities touched by this epidemic and my door will always be open to discuss and hear what they have to say about doing something to end it.”

“We are blessed to have Tyler Memorial Hospital in Wyoming County and must do everything we can to keep it vibrant.  We all must strive to promote our hometown hospital and let everyone know what a fine facility it is.”  “The “Warm Hand off” program begun by Tyler in conjunction with the Hope Coalition and PA Department of Health is making a difference by offering help to obtain treatment and making it happen.  Of course, the user must agree or be released after treatment, but the staff is well trained in intervention and the training program continues to make it an even more vibrant program.

“Economic development is paramount to the success of Wyoming County.  I’ve witnessed the exodus of young talent because of the lack of good paying jobs.  We have an active Chamber of Commerce promoting our county but more needs to be done to encourage new business.  As our population ages, we must find new opportunity for young people to replace them in the work force.  Perhaps working with surrounding counties as a group rather than as an island of our own, we can attract employers within commuting distance of Wyoming County residents.”

“Tourism is one of the biggest employers in Wyoming County and should be encouraged as much as possible.  As important as being stewards of taxpayer’s money is, we must also never forget how important it is to be stewards of our environment and our rural lifestyle.”

The position of County Commissioner should not be a lifetime career. It should be for a short duration insuring that new ideas come to the table on a regular basis. Turnover of commissioners insures that entrenchment ends and long-term relationships between commissioners and vendors cannot happen. If I’m fortunate enough to become your next County Commissioner, I pledge that I will not serve for more than eight years.”

“Contracts for services need to be reviewed constantly and put out for bid even if not required by law.  I feel there could be waste and cost savings being overlooked because of complacency by current commissioners after so many years on the job. It's easy to continue with status quo and not consider change when you’ve been in office for many years.”

“The job of County Commissioner is a fiduciary position and a Commissioner should be a steward of taxpayer's money. In my 40 years as an employee, financial professional and volunteer with financial responsibility for various groups, I have performed that duty without fail or question. I believe that my experience is what Wyoming County needs and I am eminently qualified to be your next County Commissioner.”  



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