Caught in the Middle

Photo: Lycoming Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare, Administrative Manager Lycoming County Commissioners, Eileen Ebner and Lycoming County Controller, Krista Rogers.

The battle lines are drawn for fiscal operations of Lycoming County.

Todd Bartley,

Today is the day Brandy Clemens becomes the Director of Budget & Finance for Lycoming County joined by Administrative Specialist Heather Lehman, General Accountant Matthew Tierney and Financial Technician Cynthia Gira moving from the Office of the Controller.

All of the moves were enacted during the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting and Salary Board meeting on Tuesday, taking effect today.

In 2019, the Lycoming County Commissioners merged the staff from the Office of Budget & Finance with the existing staff in the Office of the Controller.

Originally four staff members were “merged”; of those four, Lehman and Gira remain employed by Lycoming County.

The feud over the fiscal operations control of Lycoming County has been brewing for nearly the same amount of time.

The feud boiled over on Tuesday between the Lycoming County Commissioners and Lycoming County Controller, all four of whom are duly elected officials with powers and responsibilities memorialized in the Lycoming County Code.


According to the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, ARTICLE V, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND CHIEF CLERKS
(a) Commissioners, Section 501. Election; Vacancies.–(a) Three county commissioners shall be elected in each county in the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, and every fourth year thereafter. In the election of commissioners, each qualified elector shall vote for no more than two persons. The three persons having the highest number of votes shall be elected.

Section 502. Organization.–The commissioners shall meet on the first Monday of January, in the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six, and on the first Monday of January every fourth year thereafter, in the office provided for them at the county seat for the purpose of organization. If the first Monday is a legal holiday, the meeting shall be held the first day following. (502 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 503. Meetings, Regular and Special; Conduct of Meetings; Notices. — (a) The commissioners shall adopt rules for the conduct and order of business and establish regular times and places of meeting. A copy of the rules shall be posted at all times in a conspicuous place in the county court house for the benefit of the public.

Section 509. Ordinances and Resolutions.–(a) The commissioners may adopt resolutions and ordinances prescribing the manner in which powers of the county shall be carried out and generally regulating the affairs of the county. The commissioners may formulate and adopt ordinances, resolutions, and rules and regulations, pertaining to the use of any property owned or used by the county and the conduct of persons in, on or about such county property, in order to preserve such property and to promote and preserve the public health, safety and welfare.

The THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law articulates the role of the CONTROLLER in ARTICLE VI:

Section 601. Election and Term; Seal.–(a) At the municipal election immediately preceding the expiration of the term of the controller in office on January 1, 1956, and quadrennially thereafter, the qualified electors of each county of the third, fourth and fifth classes, and of every other county where the office of controller has been or may hereafter be established, including counties in which the office was established by general law, or otherwise, while such counties were in a higher classification, shall elect one citizen of the county, who shall serve as controller for the term of four years from the first Monday of January following the controller’s election, or until a successor shall be qualified.

(a.1) In counties of the second class A, a controller shall be elected at the municipal election immediately preceding the expiration of the term of the controller in office on the effective date of this subsection and quadrennially thereafter.

(b) Each county controller shall be provided with an official seal of the office by the county commissioners of the
county, which shall be used for the attestation of all official papers. (601 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 602. Eligibility.–(a) No person holding office under the United States shall be eligible to the office of
county controller during continuance in such office, nor until one year thereafter.

(b) The county commissioners, county treasurer, prothonotary, register of wills, clerk of the courts, recorder
of deeds, sheriff and district attorney, and their chief clerks or deputies, shall be ineligible, during their continuance in such office and for two years thereafter, to the office of county controller.

(c) The controller shall always be eligible to reelection or appointment.

(602 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 603. Deputy Controller and Clerks.

–(a) The controller in counties of the second class A, third, fourth and fifth classes shall appoint a deputy controller and clerks, and in counties of the sixth, seventh and eighth classes may appoint a deputy controller and clerks, and each controller may authorize one or more of the clerks employed in the controller’s office to administer to all persons oaths and affirmations, pertaining to the business of the office, with the same force and effect as if administered by the controller or deputy controller.

(b) The controller may appoint a second deputy controller, who shall possess and discharge all the rights, powers and duties of the principal deputy controller during the principal deputy controller’s and the controller’s temporary absence. (603 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 604. Solicitor to the Controller.–(604 repealed Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 605. Establishment of Office of Controller in Counties of the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Classes.

–(a) The office of controller may be established in any county of the sixth, seventh or eighth class by the affirmative vote of a majority of the electors of the county voting on the question submitted, as herein provided, at the general election in which the auditors are in the third year of their term.

(b) The question shall be submitted to the electors of the county whenever county electors file a petition containing
signatures equal to at least five per centum of the highest vote cast for any office in the county at the last preceding general election. The petition shall be filed with the county commissioners at least sixty days before the day of the general election at which the question is to be submitted. If the petition is sufficiently signed the county  commissioners shall cause the question to be submitted in the manner provided by the Pennsylvania Election Code.

(c) If the majority of electors voting on the question shall vote in favor of establishing the office of county controller, the office shall thereby be established, and, at the next municipal election, and quadrennially thereafter, the electors of the county shall choose a citizen of the county for the office of controller in place of the county auditors. (605 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154) 

Section 606. Appointment by Governor; Duties of Auditors; Abolition of Office of Auditor.

–(a) Whenever the office of controller is established in any county, under the provisions of section 605 of this act, or by a change in class of such county not otherwise provided for by law, the Governor shall appoint a suitable person to act as controller of said county until a successor in office is duly elected and installed.

(b) Upon the appointment of a controller, as provided in this section, the county auditors then in office shall proceed to audit all accounts as required by law, and shall file a report of such audit with the controller so appointed, not later than three months after the controller assumes office, whereupon the office of county auditor shall be abolished and cease to exist in said county. (606 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 607. Expenses.–The county controller and the county controller’s deputy, clerks, and auditors shall be allowed their expenses necessarily incurred and actually paid in the discharge of their official duties, or in the performance of any service or duty imposed upon them. (607 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)


A spirited back and forth took place during the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting this past Tuesday where Krista Rogers took exception to the actions being taken by the Commissioners.

She offered a press release to the local media after the meeting;

Lycoming County Controller calls for Commissioners to follow law

Shadow government?

Williamsport, PA— 4/13/2021 — Today at the Commissioners public meeting, during the Salary Board portion of the meeting, the Lycoming County Commissioners made a motion to move staff from the Controller’s Office to the office of Budget and Finance. The Commissioners are attempting to remove the checks and balances from the Controller’s office and move them to their own finance office which will eliminate the independent oversight of the County Controller – the taxpayer’s Financial Watchdog – over county spending. This is being done through an illegal salary board action. Per section 1620 of the County Code, State law that governs Counties, (Salaries and Compensations) “The exercise of such responsibilities by the county commissioners shall in no way affect the hiring, discharging and supervising rights and obligations with respect to such employees as may be vested in…. county officers.”. Section 1622 of the same Code (Salary Boards Created), “…the board, subject to limitations imposed by law, shall fix the compensation of all appointed county officers, and the number and compensation, of all….persons whose compensations is paid out of the county treasury…., numbers or compensation…., the board shall meet and consider and shall fix and determine the same.” The salary board has no legal authority to transfer positions out of an office into another office. The Commissioners have no legal authority to strip a duly elected official of staff required to complete the tasks that, by law are the duties of the office to which they were elected.

By this move the Commissioners are risking their ability to pay bills and payroll, and file a financial report. They are eliminating the Controller’s office as the lawful check and balance of county expenditures. They are doing this while Lycoming County has $19 million of COVID relief expenditures awaiting review and final verification, for State and Federal grant purposes. Where is the transparency? You cannot put the fox and hens all under the same umbrella. The office of the Controller was created to be the checks and balances for the Commissioners. Taking the accounts payable, payroll, and accounting out of the Controller’s office puts all control and power under the Commissioners.

The controller stated “These actions are illegally eliminating a critically important separation of powers that the Pennsylvania legislature wrote into the law outlining the authority and responsibilities of Pennsylvania County Controllers. This separation of powers was put in place to protect the taxpayers of this county. I cannot stand by and allow the Commissioners attempt to put a shadow government in place in Lycoming County while they publicly attempt to eliminate the proper checks and balances”.

Krista Rogers, Controller, 570-327-2300 or

Rogers stated her case citing several sections of the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, in the meeting and attached to the press release.


Conversely, the Lycoming County Commissioners cited the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, in the meeting and during an exclusive interview with

Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare agree “this is not a power grab.”

They added, “we are ultimately responsible for the fiscal operation of the county.”

“There are systemic issues that cannot continue and we believe this temporary move will allow these employees to be better trained.”

When asked about the threshold to “return to normal”; Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare had no definitive date or thresholds to meet.

They have had issues with the Office of Controller for some time and Commissioner Mirabito provided an email from Rogers dated March 17, 2020 with a subject line of 1095.

A Form 1095-C, according to the IRS website “is filed and furnished to any employee of an Applicable Large Employers (ALE) member who is a full-time employee for one or more months of the calendar. ALE members must report that information for all twelve months of the calendar year for each employee.”

Mirabito made hand written notes;

1). 1095’s were due March 2

2). Krista refusing to do it.

Rogers noted in the email, “this information is no tracked in our financial system AND that Lori Weston is the only employee with prior experience doing these, we are herby passing this to HR/Lori Weston (under Commissioners) to complete for 2019. Lori has everything related to this process.”

Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare made the personnel moves based on Sections 1701 and 1702.

Section 1701. Functions of County Commissioners.–The county commissioners shall be the responsible managers and administrators of the fiscal affairs of their respective counties in accordance with the provisions of this act and other applicable law.

Section 1702. Functions of the Controller.–(a) (1) Subject to the power and duty of the county commissioners to manage and administer the fiscal affairs of the county, the controller shall supervise the fiscal affairs of the county including the related accounts and official acts of all officers or other persons who shall collect, receive, hold or disburse, or be charged with the management or custody of, the public assets of the county. The discretionary powers of the controller shall be applicable to matters or official acts involving the accounts and transactions of officers or other persons of the county including those indicated in section 1705. The discretionary policies of the controller shall not be applicable to the establishment and adoption of the fiscal policies of the county commissioners.

Rogers responded via email to;

“This is the section I referenced Section 1705.
Financial Records.–The controller shall maintain a full and regular set of financial records, including the general ledger, in electronic form or otherwise, which support financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles of all the fiscal operations of the county, embracing as many accounts, under appropriate titles, as may be necessary to meet Federal and State reporting requirements and to show distinctly and separately all the property of the county, its revenue and expenditures, and all debts and accounts due by the county officers or others, and the amount raised from each source of revenue, and the expenditures in detail, and classified by reference to the objects thereof.
The controller shall select and administer the form and manner of maintaining the official financial records in connection with the fiscal affairs of the county. Where the controller prescribes a change in the form and manner of maintaining the official financial records, any costs necessary for implementation shall be subject to the approval of the county commissioners. In counties without a controller, the requirements of this section shall be fulfilled by the office of the county commissioners. (1705 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.)”

“Also, as a follow up, the Commissioners mischaracterized the payroll mistake. While there was an error during the payroll process; we did correct it, and pay the employee properly. The check the employee received was correct. I then took them, to cash the check (at the county’s bank) and to deposit the funds at their bank, since they don’t drive. The correction we made was to the direct deposit, which is how payroll is normally done, and we had to issue her a paper check. I had notified the Commissioners of the error so that they had all information, they did not uncover, or discover this information in any way.

My office is not the problem. I cannot be stripped of my powers and be expected to fix problems. The Commissioners keep bringing up two years, during that time Fiscal Services was in chaos, without leadership, and the Commissioners did not give them direction. Rather than taking the time to understand and give their own employees direction and bring that chaos under control, two years ago, they are trying to rebuild their power base while jeopardizing the county’s financial well-being, i.e. the annual financial report, accounts payable, and payroll.

Also, in 2020, my office put out a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report during COVID, while being blocked in communication, training, and information gathering by the Commissioners Fiscal Services Director, who has since retired.

We, my office and employees, can and will work with the Budget and Finance office to do our job under the law.”

It appears this struggle is headed for litigation at taxpayers expense over duly elected officials unable to come to a consensus on the fiscal operations of Lycoming County and the employees are caught in the middle.

This is a developing story on