Shamokin PA

$15 fee will help blight battle



SUNBURY — In cooperation with the Northumberland County Housing Authority, county commissioners have established a fund to demolish blighted properties and will increase the base fees to record deeds and mortgages by $15 each to financially support the demolition program.

Commissioners Richard Shoch, Sam Schiccatano and Kymberley Best adopted a resolution Tuesday approving the fund and passed an ordinance imposing the $15 increase in fees. The current fee to record deeds and mortgages is $65.50 apiece.

The $15 increase is expected to become effective by the end of the year, according to Northumberland County Register and Recorder Tina Mertz, who pointed out that the increase was granted by the County Demolition Funds Act 152 approved last November by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Mertz said there were 2,577 and 2,585 deeds recorded in her office in 2015 and 2016, respectively. She said there were 2,759 and 2,674 mortgages filed in the office in those years. The increase in fees would have generated an additional $80,040 in 2015 and $78,885 in 2016.

The register and recorder said the state receives about half of the current fees, but the $15 increase for each fee will go mostly to fund the county blight demolition program.

According to the ordinance, the Northumberland County Demolition Fund will be a separate account within the general fund. Eighty percent of the amount allocated in the fund can be used by the Northumberland County Housing Authority to fund demolition efforts. Five percent will be used by the county recorder of deeds for collection costs and an additional five percent and 10 percent will be used by the housing authority for general administrative costs and delivery costs associated with the demolition efforts.

The housing authority will be responsible for preparing detailed program guidelines regarding the implementation of the fund.

Bid approved

The commissioners awarded a contract to LTS Plumbing, of Paxinos, for furnace cleaning and repairs for the LIHEAP Crisis, LIHEAP Standard and Doe Funding programs as recommended by the weatherization department.

The hourly rates for a technician and laborer will be $70 and $39.25, respectively. Standard cleaning for mobile homes and gas-heated homes will cost $140. Standard cleaning for homes using oil heat will cost $148.

LTS was the lone bidder.

Other business

• The board approved a referendum question on the ballot for the Nov. 7 general election that will ask voters if the Jordan Township Board of Supervisors should return to a three-member board rather than its current five-member board.

• The commissioners appointed Todd Laudenslager to the Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority to fill the unexpired term of Bruce Smith that ends Dec. 31, 2018.

• On a 2-1 vote, a motion was passed authorizing Shoch, who serves as board chairman, to sign any individual change orders that don’t exceed $10,000 that may occur with the new prison project. Best opposed the motion.

• The commissioners agreed to issue a letter of support to Edward Christiano, executive director of the county housing authority, to obtain grant funding for the development of 36 elderly units along Trevorton Road in Coal Township next to Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The property formerly housed county offices.

• Best opposed motions approved by Shoch and Schiccatano to ratify the Northumberland County Children and Youth social services programs certification statement and the county’s Children and Youth Services fiscal year 2018-2019 needs-based plan and budget. Best said she voted against the needs-based plan and budget because she wasn’t sure if the budget submission was accurate.