Home // News Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:29 pm
Large TypePrint This StoryE-mail This StorySave This StoryPosted: January 14
Updated: Today at 3:18 AM
Final day nears for staffers, Moon Lake Park
Luzerne County Commissioners have not finalized their 2010 budget, and more cuts could be on the way before Feb. 15.
By Jennifer Learn-Andes firstname.lastname@example.org
Luzerne County Reporter
Moon Lake Park Director Clif Madrack said he and his staff have been notified that Jan. 28 will be their last day working for Luzerne County.
click image to enlargeMadrack
Select images available for purchase in the
Times Leader Photo StoreThe county engineering department has initiated plans to remove vehicles and other equipment from the Plymouth Township park, he said.
Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla would not verify planned layoffs, saying a list of furloughed employees will be approved at Wednesday’s commissioner meeting.
Petrilla said she can’t estimate the number of layoffs because the list won’t be finalized until next week.
She and Commissioner Thomas Cooney passed a 2010 budget that raises taxes 10 percent, closes Moon Lake and other departments and slashes about $6 million in staff salaries across the board.
The new spending plan has not been implemented because it may be amended by Feb. 15, based largely on feedback Cooney obtained from discussions with department heads in recent days.
Departments have not come up with enough reductions or new revenue to fill the $6 million staff-reduction void, which means that commissioners must decide whether to make up the difference through layoffs or a higher tax increase.
Madrack said he and the park’s three other full-time workers had held out hope that commissioners would find a way to keep the park open.
Commissioners are seeking proposals from outside entities interested in running the park at no cost to the county, but those proposals aren’t due until Thursday.
Madrack does not expect any takers because it may be difficult generating revenue to cover the costs of running the park, particularly if interested entities want to generate a profit.
Minority Commissioner Stephen A. Urban has pushed for the closure of Moon Lake to save money. Petrilla has said that closing the park is a painful decision, but the county can’t raise taxes while continuing to fund non-mandated expenses.
Madrack said he and other employees have worked hard to spruce up the park on a shoestring budget.
“We improved the park so much over the last eight years, and we feel we’re not appreciated,” Madrack said.
“I realize the county’s financial situation, but that doesn’t make it any better for the people who use the park, or the employees.”
He estimated the park attracts 100,000 to 150,000 visitors per year, including people who fish, cross-country ski, hike, bike and camp. The park is also booked annually by groups of Scouts, medieval enthusiasts, Revolutionary War re-enactors, ham radio operators and a turkey federation, he said.
“The people who use the park are very upset. People are calling me every day,” he said.
Recreation Director Andy Gegaris is also slated to be laid off. He declined comment.
Supporters who want to keep the park open are expected to attend today’s 11 a.m. commissioner work session.
The county’s 2010 budget also eliminates funding for all seven full-time tax claim workers, though it’s unclear if they will be laid off next week. Commissioners are exploring the possibility of hiring an outside company to run the office. Eight private companies have expressed an interest in that work