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Coronavirus in Schuylkill County

Commissioners Hold Off Approving Consulting Contract

Schuylkill County Commissioners held off approving a consulting contract with a company that allegedly helped divvy up the $12.7 million in CARES Act money last year.

The proposed contract with Susquehanna Accounting & Consulting Solutions Inc. would last through most of 2021 (Jan. 4-Dec. 31) and cost the county no more than $50,000. It’s not known what service this consulting firm would provide the county in the coming year. The Commissioners meeting agenda on Wednesday only indicated that Susquehanna would provide “technical consulting” to the Commissioners.

Commissioners Chairman Boots Hetherington announced Wednesday that he’s tabling that motion to approve the contract until next week. The main reason he did that was to avoid any public conflict with Commissioner Gary Hess, who we’ve been told is opposed to the deal.

Boots needed another vote to approve the contract and he couldn’t get it from Commissioner George Halcovage on Wednesday because he was absent from their weekly meeting.

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Susquehanna was one of two companies brought in last year by the Schuylkill Commissioners to help OK spending choices using the CARES Act allocation it received to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the spending decisions using that money were highly questionable.

The most problematic is the county’s decision to use a large, unknown portion of the fund to cover a shortfall in the 2021 budget, which the Commissioners admitted to doing toward the end of 2020.

Prior to deciding to use the CARES Act money to plug a budget hole, the Commissioners had voted to use more than $6 million of that fund to purchase equipment to upgrade the County’s 9-1-1 system. And even that decision was highly questionable and was voted against, for the most part, by Hess.

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