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June 4, 2014

Dollars dribble toward 911 bill

Northumberland County crosses out $25G for Union, pens in $11G

LEWISBURG — That Northumberland County again fell far short of paying its $25,000 quarterly bill for northern municipality emergency services handled by Union County was not as big a surprise as the way in which the $11,000 was transferred.

Northumberland County made the paltry direct deposit into Union County’s general fund without a word of notice.

The payment became known only after a daily review of accounts.

“We had no anticipation the money was coming,” said Diana Robinson, Union County’s chief clerk and county administrator.

Supporting documents from Northumberland County arrived later. The $25,000 figure listed as amount owed had been crossed out, replaced with a penned-in $11,000. That’s $14,000 short of the bill and $1,000 less than what Northumberland County had been paying, Union County Commissioners Preston Boop and John Showers said Tuesday.

In January, Union County began billing Northumberland County $25,000 quarterly for 911 emergency coverage of its northern municipalities. In a December letter, Union County commissioners put forth a 10-year agreement that will keep the $100,000 annual bill in place for the first five years.

Northumberland County, however, never responded to the letter, so Union County began quarterly billing.

“I don’t know what prompted that or who decided now to make a payment,” Northumberland County Commissioner Rick Shoch said. “My position is we should have been paying (Union County) all along.”

The other two Northumberland County commissioners were unavailable for comment Tuesday. Vinny Clausi was admitted to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital for tests for an ailment, and Stephen Bridy is away at a conference.

Union County’s move was an attempt to solve a long-running funding impasse for the 911 service it has provided to northern Northumberland County for many years. Union County officials sought to wrap up the 911 issue by October, requesting in a June 2013 letter that Northumberland County’s leaders advise them of their intent by that date. They never did.

In that same letter, Union County commissioners said they were not “charging, demanding or requesting” $200,000 to furnish the 911 services, as some Northumberland County officials had asserted in media reports.

Union County commissioners will take no further action at this point, Showers said.

“I’m assuming we will look at the budget next year and see if (Northumberland County commissioners) will give us some idea if they intend to use our services.”

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