New resolution allows Northumberland County to spend more on funerals for kids in CYS care
SUNBURY - Northumberland County commissioners Tuesday adopted a resolution that allows the county to spend up to $3,200 for funeral-related expenses for children who die while in the care of Children and Youth and Juvenile Court Services.
Voting to amend the 1980 policy that only allowed the county to spend up to $300 were Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Richard Shoch, who was unable to attend the meeting in person but participated by telephone. Commissioner Stephen Bridy abstained from voting because he doesn't believe government, at the taxpayers' expense, should benefit parents who don't properly raise their children.
"This is a slippery slope," Bridy said. "I believe we are circumventing the state legislature and breaking county code, and I would like to contact CCAP (County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania) before I vote on this."
Clausi explained when a child on disability passes away while in the custody of Children and Youth and Juvenile Court Services, federal and state governments are responsible for paying 90 percent of funeral-related costs if the child is not claimed. The county is responsible for the remaining 10 percent.
The commissioner chairman said if the child isn't on disability when he or she dies, the county must assume all the funeral-related expenses.
"The child didn't ask to die. It's not their fault they were placed in Children and Youth. Out of respect for the children, I think we should give them all a decent burial. I think the policy needs to be changed because you can't bury anybody for $300," Clausi added.
Attorney Michael Robinson, solicitor for Children and Youth, agreed the policy needed to be changed. During the past 10 years, Robinson said three children have passed away while in the care of Children and Youth. He said the funeral expenses ranged from $3,200 to $10,000.
The most recent death occurred about two weeks ago, Clausi said.
In other business
The board unanimously entered into an agreement with Jim Olcese of Olcese Plumbing and Heating, Shamokin, to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning services for the weatherization department.
Olcese will be paid $35 per hour, while another employee, Mark Moroz, will receive $25 per hour for his services.
The commissioners approved funding in the amount of $5,526 to the Lower Anthracite Transportation System.
The board awarded a $10,188 contract to T-Ross Brothers Construction Inc. for the installation of additional security devices at office of Magisterial District Judge Michael Diehl in Milton with reimbursement from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
At the end of the meeting, Walter Lutz, of Kulpmont, commended Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) Authority Chairman Jim Backes and authority member and county planning director Pat Mack for their cooperation in allowing him to review expenditures, invoices, receipts and loan documents involved with the AOAA.
Lutz praised authority members for their hard work with the AOAA and providing excellent documentation.
Last week, Lutz submitted a letter to the editor to The News-Item in which he was critical of the AOAA's response to his Right-to-Know request.