A former commissioner in Lycoming County has advised the current commissioners to reach out to their Pennsylvania counterparts for assistance in their most recent dispute with the county controller. Former commissioner Jack McKernan asked the commissioners to get in touch with the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) as they prepare to file an appeal of Potter County Senior Judge John B. Leete’s order regarding county controller Krista Rogers.
However, the three commissioners believe that the county code provides them authority over the general ledger, payroll, and accounts payable, despite Leete’s most recent judgment upholding the controller’s view that these responsibilities are his.
“Having been in your shoes, I believe she’s wrong.”
During the public comment phase of this week’s county commissioners’ meeting.
“If we don’t as a county fight for the commissioners’ right to manage the fiscal affairs of the county, it’s not going to affect just us, it’s going to affect any other county in the state,”
McKernan reached out to CCAP because the outcome of the appeal from Lycoming County will have repercussions for other county commissioner boards. Previous research has shown that in around half of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the controller is in charge of the budget while the commissioners are responsible for the other half.
Below, we’ve provided websites where you may read up on the most recent Pennsylvania-related news stories.
- Why It’s OK If Pennsylvania Doesn’t Have Election Night Results
- The County Failed to Live Up to its Responsibilities Under Act 165
- Fetterman Vs Oz In Pennsylvania Senate
“If we aren’t making an attempt to bring CCAP in to handle some of the costs or to fight the fight on behalf of all the county commissioners in the state, I think we’re missing the boat,”
When asked, J. David Smith, the commissioners’ lawyer, stated CCAP was welcome to join them. According to Commissioner Rick Mirabito,
“They could intervene on what’s called the amicus brief, where basically they would weigh in with their legal arguments, which would be similar to ours,”
“It would show the court that there is another entity that is also concerned about this,”
In 2019, while sitting as a commissioner, McKernan heard Rogers say that the aforementioned duties should be transferred to her office due to a change in county code.
As asked by fellow commissioner Scott Metzger,
“You were one of the two commissioners that agreed to give control back to the controller’s office; what has changed your view now?”
“I think at the time, when she came with her counsel coming out of Pittsburgh, at that time it made sense,”
Metzger probed further, inquiring about the shift in his thinking.
“I thought it was wrong at the time — we let it happen,”
“To tell you the truth, I think what I saw the involvement of the controller at that time was absentee management, and it just seemed like everything got messed up.”
“It was like, OK, yeah, that was a bad idea, and I don’t know if it’s gotten any better, but you know it didn’t work. It was working fine the way we had it set up,”
McKernan urged the commissioners once again to seek aid from CCAP.
“Get an opinion from the CCAP Council because they certainly know what all the other counties in the state are doing. If that ruling stands against us, it’s not going to affect just Lycoming County, it’ll affect anybody else that operates like us,”
In the past, Mirabito has emphasised that there is no animosity involved in the commissioners’ disagreement with Rogers.
“This is about the office of the commissioners and the office of the controller,”
“We need to get a final decision from an appellate court after examining the law and interpreting the statute. If the Appellate Court tells us that it’s supposed to be this way, that’s the way it is.”
“That is what our court system is for. That’s the responsibility we have for future generations of commissioners and controllers,”
The commissioners are moving forward with the appeal despite statements from Metzger last week that he was opposed to moving forward with the appeal and from commissioner Tony Mussare saying he preferred trying to negotiate a solution to taking legal action. Mirabito said after the meeting that he and Rogers had been unable to reach a resolution.
“We had a meeting with her to try to resolve it, but basically she wanted us just to implement the decision that the trial judge had made,”
“We offered her a proposal that was a compromise which would allow her to have control of the general ledger, and we would do accounts payable and accounts receivable,”
“We made that offer because the statute references the general ledger, but she rejected that,”
“We made a bona fide effort to try to resolve it — quite frankly, our lawyer did and got no response. We then asked for a meeting with her, and we presented it in the meeting to her, and she rejected it.”
The deadline for the commissioners’ appeal is February 24.