“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 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.”
“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.
"In my opinion, this should not happen if your County Commissioners are paying attention to business. When this report was distributed by the the Auditor General for the past 10 years, the majority commissioners are on the distribution list and nothing was done to get reimbursement for these funds.....for some reason, the minority commissioner isn't on the distribution list and I wonder why that is.
Since this amount has been growing for 10 years because reports and invoices were not submitted, the county and ultimately townships and boroughs missed out on $226,000 of road funding. Now that it's finally been in the paper because of the press release from the Auditor General, they are finally looking into straightening out the problem.
As your next County Commissioner, I promise to spend time at the courthouse, paying attention to detail and making sure errors and oversights of this magnitude don't happen again. I assure you that if my name is on the distribution report for any official business I will read it and respond to the best of my ability!" Rick Wilbur
Reprinted from the Wilkes Barre Times Leader 11/10/18
WILKES-BARRE — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week said he is furious at Wyoming County officials for continuing to shirk their responsibility to claim $226,962 in bridge inspection reimbursements from PennDOT.
The situation was revealed in an audit released last week.
“I’m livid at county officials, who seem unfazed about ignoring $226,962 in available funding — instead of passing the buck, they should be claiming it,” DePasquale said in a news release. “It’s dereliction of duty to fail to obtain every cent of gas tax funding so that residents and first responders can avoid long detours because of bridges and roads in need of repair.”
The audit found the money was not claimed because county officials failed to submit the required paperwork for more than 11 years, spanning his and the previous auditor general’s administrations.
“I really shouldn’t have to tell county officials how to do their jobs, but my office is working with PennDOT to make sure the county gets every dollar still available to be claimed,” he added. “County residents pay gas taxes every time they visit the pump, so why can’t county officials bother to fill out the paperwork to reap the benefits?”
Five previous audits, dating to 2007, have recommended officials in Wyoming County seek the reimbursements. It is unclear how much PennDOT will reimburse because some of the claims are so old.
Wyoming County officials offered no explanation why they did not request the reimbursements, or what they intend to do in the future, according to the audit which examined the liquid fuels fund in 2016.
The audit also found Wyoming County officials failed to designate nearly $100,000 in liquid fuels funds to road projects. Because county officials failed to designate the funding, PennDOT guidelines call for the county commissioners to distribute half of the unencumbered, or undesignated, funds to the municipalities in what is called a forced distribution.
The liquid fuels funding that PennDOT provides comes from a one-half cent tax collected on each gallon of gas purchased at the pump.
The Wyoming County Liquid Fuels audit report is available online at: www.PaAuditor.gov.
"Read on and you decide who is to blame. Is it those in charge who didn't follow up to make sure....Read and make up your own mind!" Rick Wilbur
Story by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
Following a second lashing by the state auditor general of Wyoming County officials for untapped liquid fuels funds, commissioner Tom Henry and chief clerk Bill Gaylord insist that they have done everything possible to secure the release of the disputed $226,962. Gaylord met with PennDOT officials on Nov. 1 and filed the required paperwork on Monday.
“Everything is in PennDOT’s hands as of this morning,” Gaylord stated. “I have a good feeling we’ll get it all back. It’ll all be turned over to the municipalities, because our (the county’s) bridges are in great shape.”
The controversy began on Oct. 25 when auditor general Eugene DePasquale issued a scathing report that singled out Wyoming County for gross negligence in not filing for bridge inspection reimbursements several years back to 2007. The total is a sum of both bridge inspection and bridge design spec reimbursements.
“It was an oversight, and we’re working to fix it,” said Gaylord.
The response of county officials to DePasquale’s allegations as reported by the media did little to appease the auditor general, who issued a second statement on Nov. 1 accusing them of “dodging blame” and “continuing to shirk their responsibility” to claim the funds, despite no direct communication with anyone at the county level.
“I’m livid at county officials who seem unfazed about ignoring (the funds),” he stated in the posting on his website. “It’s dereliction of duty to fail to obtain every cent of gas tax funding so that residents and first responders can avoid long detours because bridges and roads need repair.”
DePasquale appeared to be referencing a request of the commissioners by Exeter Township supervisor Rick Wilbur at an Oct. 30 public meeting to replace a bridge on Lockville Road that was closed four years ago. Gene Dziak, who serves as assistant fire chief for the Lake Winola Fire Company, as well as the county’s EMA director, echoed Wilbur’s concerns by noting that the detour is impractical for drivers of emergency vehicles.
Additionally, DePasquale indicated that his office is working with PennDOT to get Wyoming County the money to which the municipalities are entitled.
“We don’t need their help,” Henry asserted on Monday afternoon. “We’re already working with PennDOT.” He related that he’d also left messages for DePasquale on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4.
“He could have returned my calls,” said Henry, who referred to DePasquale’s most recent press release as “mean spirited” and “unnecessary.” Much of the rest of DePasquale’s second posted attack was redundant.
“It’s a political stunt,” Gaylord suggested. “Because it’s election time.”
In the meantime, he explained, the state has changed the process for filing for liquid fuels funds, making them more automatic. “We’ll never have to do this again,” Gaylord stated.
Henry spoke with a representative of DePasquale’s office on Wednesday and expressed his dismay that the auditor general had issued such strong statements without contacting any of the commissioners personally. Henry conceded that Gaylord was at fault for the issue at hand and explained that they were working closely with PennDOT to rectify the situation.
Robert Baker / Published: December 12, 2018
County commissioners saved the 2019 budget for the very end of Tuesday’s meeting, to announce there would probably be a tax increase, the extent of which is not exactly clear. However, it’s looking like about 1.5 mills.
One mill represents a $1 increase in tax for every $1,000 assessed value.
The $14.177 million budget for 2019 has been available for public inspection for a little over a week now, and will be voted on during the commissioners’ last official meeting of the year on Thursday, Dec. 27.
According to Chief Clerk Bill Gaylord, the assessed value across Wyoming County dropped $1.759 million over the past year and the lost revenue just from that will have a huge impact on next year’s budget, accounting for $437,000 loss in income.
“The county’s not growing where we want to go, but we’re stuck with that,” Gaylord said.
He added that he knows there will he a 4.4 percent increase in health care costs, and expects that a one mill increase in the tax rate could generate around $408,000, give or take some shift in collectibles.
The current 2018 budget is for $15.873 million but Gaylord said it is a bit misleading to compare apples to oranges as the current budget has considerable pass-thru funds that are being calculated differently with the new year’s budget.
Robert Baker / Published: January 2, 2019
Wyoming County Commissioners Judy Mead and Tom Henry voted Thursday to raise property taxes by one and a half mills to support a $14.2 million budget for 2019. It is the second such tax increase in the past two years.
"How much more can taxpayers take? We seem to be able to just raise taxes rather than do the hard job of controlling expenses and living within our means. IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE WYOMING COUNTY!" Rick Wilbur
Robert Baker/Published: April 12, 2017
A former Wyoming County Public Safety Director was sentenced to two years probation, $750 restitution and $2,000 in fines in two separate cases - one of which was theft by unlawful taking and involved the purchase of more than $90,000 in toner cartridges that the county may never use. Court records revealed a 2-year investigation focused on Debra Raimondi, 60, of New Milford, started after current public safety director Jeff Porter reported the office he took over in 2014 was literally inundated with printer ink cartridges. “After she left, when I went into her office, every desk drawer, filing cabinet I opened, every shelf in her office had ink cartridges,” Porter told Wyoming County Chief Detective David Ide, according to a criminal complaint. After contacting Kelly Printing in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ide alleged that Raimondi had ordered hundreds of ink cartridges a year, while Porter told Ide the center had one printer and “You would be lucky if you used one ink cartridge a year.” Porter’s inventory revealed 1,252 ink cartridges. Ide alleged in the complaint that from 2009 to 2013, Raimondi ordered $92,794.46 worth of ink cartridges from Kelly, and also would receive a four percent cash back in the form of Wal-Mart gift cards.
"Restitution was $750 back to the county....a waste of $92,000 to the county because purchase order system evidently not followed as it should be. As your next County Commissioner, I promise to read the purchase requisitions and other paperwork that crosses my desk and ask questions before approving if something doesn't look right" Rick Wilbur