County looks to help agencies during shutdown

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The partial government shutdown is now 32 days long and counting.

As time goes on, the impact on state and local governments is growing and now Lackawanna County commissioners are taking action.

Commissioners plan on offering assistance to agencies like COLTS (County of Lackawanna Transit System) and the Lackawanna County Housing Authority both which receive federal funding.

COLTS relies on federal money to pay some salaries and vendors.

The shutdown has caused a lot of questions about when that money will come in but Lackawanna County leaders are saying don’t worry.

Lackawanna County is now offering to open its checkbook, extending a line of credit to the two agencies, if needed.

“County housing and COLTS transit cannot go without. They’re great employees and they’re heroes of our community,” Lackawanna County commissioner Pat O’Malley said.

Commissioners are prepared to give COLTS up to $250,000/month if needed.

The transportation agency relies on federal funding to pay some workers and even things like bus parts.

“It’s going to help us, give us some breathing room to get through the next few months without hopefully making any type of cuts,” COLTS Executive Director Bob Fiume said.

Wayne Williams runs the county’s shared ride services which helps bring people with special needs to appointments.

If the partial government shutdown continues to drag on he was worried there could have been cuts to certain areas.

“Some of these people have had medical appointments scheduled maybe months in advance and we’re going to call you maybe a day or two in advance and say that we can’t do it because of whatever? We really don’t want to do that!” Wayne Williams said.

In addition to COLTS, commissioners have also offered $200,000/month to the county’s housing authority.

Their programs, including Section 8 programs, are fully funded through the end of February but starting in March managers are unsure where money will come from.

They’re also thankful commissioners are offering to help.

“It’s great to have the opportunity, that they stepped up and we have this coverage if you will,” Pat Padula, Executive Director of the Lackawanna Housing Authority said.

This isn’t the first time Lackawanna County has stepped-up to help during troubled times.

Several years ago, the county did something similiar to help its human service agencies during a budget impasse in Harrisburg.

The county’s offer for financial help is just temporary and agencies will have to pay back all the money once the shutdown ends and federal money starts flowing once again.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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