Commissioners move forward on wireless initiative, SBA program [The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.]
(Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 24--Lackawanna County is moving forward with two key components of its economic development plan.
The commissioners on Wednesday introduced legislation to borrow $2.8 million to fund the county's long-awaited wireless infrastructure initiative and gave final approval to a new fee-waiver program aimed at encouraging private-sector job growth.
"This is all about creating jobs," majority Commissioner Jim Wansacz said. "We are giving ourselves the tools to make that happen."
Under the funding ordinance, the county will borrow $2,834,108 from Fidelity Deposit & Discount Bank to pay for construction of a carrier-grade wireless network to replace its existing telecommunications systems.
In addition to enhancing county communications, including filling critical gaps in emergency 911 service coverage, the wireless system is expected to be a catalyst for development by offering private companies redundant, highly secure and highly reliable networking services.
The county aims to have the network up and running as early as July, county spokesman Joe D'Arienzo said.
Chief Financial Officer Thomas Durkin said the 10-year Fidelity loan will carry a 2.84 percent interest rate for the first three years and then will reset annually at 70 percent of the national prime rate, with a cap of 5.5 percent.
The loan payments will be less than the $480,000 the county now spends annually on the telecommunications services the wireless network will replace, he said.
"There is no impact to county taxpayers financially," Mr. Durkin told the commissioners.
The commissioners are devoting up to $400,000 in economic development funds to the Small Business Administration loan fee-waiver program, which is currently the only one of its kind in the country.
Under the program, the county will pay the fees on SBA loans for qualified businesses that deploy 100 percent of the loan proceeds in the county and create or retain jobs in the county.
Mr. Wansacz said he and fellow majority Commissioner Corey O'Brien thought three or four companies might have an interest, but many more than that have already contacted the county.
The commissioners also:
- Awarded a contract to Globe Digital Business Services Inc., Archbald, to index, prepare and scan Orphans Court documents dating from 1920 to 1929 for the register of wills office. The company will be paid on a per-page basis at a total estimated cost to the county of $34,500.
- Heard a complaint from Dunmore resident Leo Murray that his constitutional rights were violated when he was barred from bringing a video camera to Wednesday's meeting. "This is a public meeting taking place in a public building by people who were duly elected by the people of this county. I have every single right to video or still-photograph anything that transpires in this meeting," he told the commissioners.
- Awarded a $744 contract to Rite Temp Associates Inc., Dalton, to conduct inspections and perform preventative maintenance twice annually on HVAC and other equipment at the Department of Elections office on Stafford Avenue.
- Presented a "Good Works in Lackawanna County" certificate of recognition to the Voluntary Action Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
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