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Wyoming County Commissioners Looking at Possibly Laying Off Some Employees

Because of a recent decision by the AFSCME Union Arbitration Board, Wyoming County will be $25,000 in the red at the end of this year. They may look to make up the shortfall by letting some people go.

"There could be some layoffs," noted Wyoming County Commissioner Tony Litwin on Tuesday.

The commissioners explained that in January it was decided to pay county employees 1/27th of their total annual pay, 27 times on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year 2004. This was done because of the way the pay periods fell this year; it is a situation which arises every 12 years.

The union, however, felt that this might violate the terms of the contract its employees have with the county; therefore, they researched the situation and have finally come to a decision. The decision is that because the initial pay for 2004 on Jan. 2 was actually payment to the employees for work done in 2003, the employees are actually entitled to 26 pay periods in 2004. Each pay would be 1/26th of the annual amount. Since the employees have been receiving 1/27th of their annual salary per paycheck, the difference will have to be made up. The estimate is that it will cost the county $25,000.

On a brighter note, however, because that first check in January was paid at the 2004 rate, when it should have been paid at the 2003 rate, the county will receive a credit of about $5,000. This will be deducted from the payments owed to the employees. The situation affects about 40 percent of the county's employees. Although the county may appeal the arbitrator's decision, County Solicitor John Hovan said Tuesday that this course of action has "yet to be decided."

In other business, the county has received about $150,000 in liquid fuels money. This is available to any county municipality which requests the funds. The allotment for each municipality is based on its roadways and population. Eaton Township has already requested $12,063. Nicholson and Tunkhannock Townships will be receiving $8,700 and $20,100 respectively.

A grant from the PA Bar Association will allow the Wyoming County Bar Association to purchase and run a copier. The copier will be housed in the Law Library in the courthouse. The copier will be for the exclusive use of Wyoming County attorneys who are doing pro bono work for the indigent of the county.

Wyoming County, along with Sullivan County, which is in the same Judicial District, has 100 percent participation in the pro bono program, with attorneys participating taking on at least one pro bono case a year.

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