County explains delay on Depot Street Project

First Posted: 8/28/2014

Lackawanna County Director of Economic Development George Kelly told Clarks Summit Borough Council at its regular work session on Aug. 26 the county will not disperse Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds because of an audit from Harrisburg.

“Until we resolve this audit, we are holding up the CDBG projects,” Kelly said.

The audit could take anywhere from 30 days to six months, which has significantly delayed the Depot Street Project because the project is mostly funded by CDBG funds. Kelly also said it’s possible the delay may be longer, depending upon the results of the audit.

“I apologize for the delay,” Kelly said, adding the county does not want to begin any CDBG projects until it is sure the borough will receive the CDBG funding.

Kelly said the borough has the option to move forward with the project if it is willing to find another way to fund the project in the interim, based on the expectation the county would reimburse the borough once the audit is complete.

Council President Gerrie Carey said, “As disappointing as it is,” the borough “may be in a better position,” if the project resumes in the spring of 2015.

Council member Herman Johnson repeatedly suggested the Depot Street Project Committee meet to discuss the borough’s options regarding moving forward and what to tell community members involved if the project is delayed indefinitely. “We have to sit down and brainstorm,” said Johnson.

The Depot Street Project was ready to go to bid after the borough gave the project engineer the approval to submit plans to the county for bidding in March. Kelly advised council that the project may still be sent to bid.

Council member Vince Cruciani suggested the county send the project to bid and that council establish a cooperation agreement with the county. “Council needs to look at how well-defined the pre-bid is,” said Cruciani, to protect borough taxpayers from the potential for additional costs if the project goes over budget. “We just want to be careful.”

“In terms of what the borough’s done, you’ve done a great job,” Kelly said. “The borough has done everything in its power.”

Kelly told council as soon as he receives a more accurate timeline regarding the audit, he will alert borough council.

The Depot Street Project overhaul includes plans to pave the street, create additional parking and add new lighting and sidewalks.

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