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Nearly Three Dozen Luzerne County Employees Still On The Chopping Block

Luzerne County Manager, Robert Lawton has to decide how he'll fill a $1.4-million dollar budget gap.
Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County - "16 percent of full-time employees have been cut over the past two years," Luzerne County Councilman, Harry Hass said.

Hass told Eyewitness News he worries that number is only going to grow starting on Tuesday. That's because there's a $1.4-million dollar budget gap in the budget that County Manager, Robert Lawton has to fill.

"That gap will either be made up in layoffs or in healthcare concessions," Hass said.

Earlier this month Luzerne County Council approved a budget with a $1.4 million dollar deficit.

In order to try and close the gap administrators have been negotiating with the county's unions to see if concessions could be made, specifically regarding health care costs.

Monday night councilors announced that the two sides couldn't find a sweeping agreement. That means that up to 36 Luzerne County employees could be out of a job starting on Tuesday.

"I have personally sat with employees who have been laid off," Charlie Majikes, who represents probation officers and domestic relations support officers, said. "It's one of the worst things you could go through."

Majikes said his group agreed to the concessions in an effort to save jobs. Since no agreement was reached he worries what Lawton will decide.

"We are trying to work with administrators from the county and try to reside all the issues," he said.

Lawtown has two choices. He can force the changes or enstate the layoffs. He refused to talk to Eyewitness News on camera after Monday night's meeting, but vowed to have a balanced budget on Tuesday night.
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