County Council To Vote On Hiring Lobbyist Group

April 22, 2019 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on county Manager David Pedri’s proposal to hire a lobbying firm to find funding for big-ticket projects the county must complete soon.

Pedri wants the county to retain the services of Maverick Strategies, a lobbyist group based in Harrisburg, for $5,000 per month.

Council members gave mixed reactions to the proposal at a council work session two weeks ago.

Pedri said the firm would give the county “a consistent presence” in the halls of the state capitol. That would help the county obtain grants and other funding sources for mandatory multimillion-dollar purchases such as new voting machines and a digital communication system for the county 911 emergency center, Pedri said.

Councilwoman Sheila Saidman said her experience has taught her that lobbyists at state level can be helpful.

Council members Stephen A. Urban and Linda McClosky Houck objected to the proposal.

The county already has a grant writer and has hired a firm to manage the 911 upgrade project, Urban noted.

Houck said the county does not need to spend money on a lobbying firm. She also said Pedri should have sent out a request for proposals from firms interested in a lobbying contract with the county.

Houck, in an email to council Chairman Tim McGinley, requested that the proposed contract with Maverick Strategies not be included in the agenda for Tuesday’s voting session. Council should not vote on the matter until Pedri follows “the appropriate process” outlined in the county charter, Houck wrote.

According to the proposed agreement, Maverick Strategies’ primary task would be to assist the county to obtain “competitive state and federal grants” to fund the 911 communication system upgrade.

The firm would provide services such as “general consulting, relationship-building, message creation, news monitoring, legislative bill monitoring and client communications,” the agreement states.

The contract will take effect May 1 and run through the end of June 2020, if council approves it.

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