Lycoming County Commissioners in split decision set to appeal court loss in case brought by Krista Rogers, Lycoming County Controller

Photo: Lycoming County Commissioners (L-R) Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare

and Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers.

Todd Bartley,

On Thursday, the Lycoming County Commissioners issued a press release stating their reasoning behind an appeal of the most recent court battle loss to duly elected Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers.

The press release in its entirety is provided below.

“The Court recently issued a decision in the litigation instituted against the Commissioners by the controller. There have been a number of comments circulating in the press and in social media regarding the decision, many of which suggest the need for our explanation to clarify where we stand.

            Initially, for decades the functions of general ledger, payroll, and accounts payable were housed within the County’s finance department, not in the controller’s office. This structure was productive, and continued under both the former controllers and for fifteen plus years with the current controller.  During this entire period, the current controller was able to exercise the functions of that office and no litigation was filed by her or otherwise occurred. 

            Several years ago the controller demanded that these functions be transferred to her office. Through her attorney at that time, litigation was threatened against the County.  Although things were running smoothly as they were then set up, the Commissioners acquiesced to the controller’s demand rather than to allow the controller’s litigation threat to unfold. 

            However, it became apparent that these transferred functions were not being effectively performed under the controller’s supervision; even more critically, the controller limited the County’s access to records for review and oversight purposes, thereby impeding the Commissioners ability to fulfill their statutory mandate to “manage and administer” the fiscal affairs of the County.  Furthermore, the controller threatened to withhold her signature on County payroll checks, which would have had a disastrous impact for the County.

            As a result of the threat, the County sought an injunction to prevent a catastrophe from occurring.  The Commissioners also returned to the County the transferred functions, where they had been performed for many, many years.  The lawsuit ended and the Commissioners believed the matter to be closed.

            However, in December of 2021, the controller filed her own new lawsuit to force the Commissioners to transfer the functions to her office. It was the controller who sued the County, not the other way around. The County felt compelled to defend this litigation because of the Commissioners’ overarching responsibility to the taxpayers to maintain oversight and control of fiscal affairs as against the controller’s prior efforts to withhold critical information.  This litigation resulted in the recent decision.  The result, which is favorable to the controller, fails to properly account in the Commissioners’ opinion for their obligation, as expressly spelled out in the County Code, to be the responsible managers and administrators of the fiscal affairs of the County. The court’s decision does not resolve the issue of whether the controller can withhold, as she has threatened to do, the County’s full access to the records it needs for the effective management and administration of the fiscal affairs of the County, so that it can protect the County’s employees and taxpayers.

            The background noise suggests that the Commissioners are trying to wrest power from the controller.   They are not.  They are simply trying to perform the jobs they were elected to do and are directed by law to do.   There is also some suggestion that the Commissioners’ actions occurred because the present controller is female.  That also is not the case.  Indeed, the prior controller under which the present arrangement operated exclusively for decades was a male.  The Commissioners’ only desire to make sure that they are properly managing the fiscal affairs of the County, which is their duty by statute and their obligation to the taxpayers. Their actions are only intended to further that mission.  For these reasons, the Commissioners will be pursuing an appeal of the decision.”

It is important to note, Brandy Clemens who became the Director of Budget & Finance subsequently resigned the weekend after she testified in this case.

Clemens, was joined in leaving the Office of Budget & Finance by Administrative Specialist Heather Lehman, who is now an Accountant in the Planning Department.

Matthew Tierney is no longer employed by Lycoming County.

Financial Technician Cynthia Gira also resigned to accept other employment. So, none of the transferred employees remain employed in the Budget & Finance Department or Office of the Controller.

This is a developing story on