Was the injunction filed by the Lycoming County Commissioners against the Lycoming County Controller even necessary?

Photo: Lycoming County Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare, Administrative Manager Lycoming County Commissioners, Eileen Ebner and Lycoming County Controller, Krista Rogers.
By: Todd Bartley
If the duly elected Controller of Lycoming County performed the necessary functions to facilitate payment of accounts payable and payroll earlier this week and by not doing so (under the law) could lead to her removal from office; why was an injunction even necessary?
The background of the story stems from a long running battle over the financial operations of Lycoming County and who is ultimately responsible.
As the court filings indicate; Krista Rogers, Lycoming County Controller believes she has the authority.
Conversely, the Lycoming County Commissioners also believe they have the “ultimate responsibility” over the operations and finances of Lycoming County.
So on April 20, 2021, the Lycoming County Commissioners filed a civil lawsuit against Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers over fiscal operations of the County.
Under the banner of “ultimate responsibility” the Lycoming County Commissioners filed an LCC TRO motion against Controller with the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas citing the “threat” Rogers in her capacity as Controller would remove her “ceremonial signature” thus kicking off a cascade of events potentially leading to bills and payroll not being paid.
That scenario has not occurred.
By the standard the Lycoming County Commissioners have outlined, at any point in time they could potentially seize control of any other duly elected Lycoming County official’s department under the “ultimate responsibility” banner and potentially set off a cascade of litigation, all at taxpayers expense.
An example, would be the Office of Prothonotary; if the Lycoming County Commissioners believed the functions and responsibilities of that office were not being performed to their satisfaction; under the “ultimate responsibility” banner, changes could take place in that department as well.

In fact, what has occurred since the filing of the injunction and lawsuit which will have a hearing in front of visiting

Senior Judge John B. Leete from Potter County next Wednesday at 1 p.m. is a public war of words between the parties involved.
In response to the actions taken by the Lycoming County Commissioners, on April 20, 2021 at 2 p.m. – Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers issued the following statement:
“In response to the action taken today by the Lycoming County Commissioners. Their statements are gross misrepresentations of the facts. This is not about training or alleged mistakes they claim were made, it is an abuse of office and has been a conspiracy to subvert the law since December of 2019. They have been trying to figure out how to take these duties, and positions, away from me since December 2019 when they started paying their solicitor, again, on this issue after they decided to follow the law in May of 2019. What they are doing goes against PA State law, and is the biggest waste of Lycoming County taxpayer dollars. I have tried to talk to them about training and working together under the law now I will have to wait and see what their filing says.
Just this week my office has corrected two errors where employees would have been paid out more than would have been proper, according to policy, based on improper information given to employees by the HR department and the Commissioners’ office.
I have, and will always, stand up and fight for the taxpayers of Lycoming County to make sure the Commissioners do not create a shadow government where they can spend money with no checks and balances.
Krista B. Rogers, Lycoming County Controller”
That same day the Lycoming County Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger and Tony Mussare issued a press release in response to TalkWilliamsport.com reporting which reads as follows:

“We offer these thoughts in response to the Controller’s attempt to politicize our recent personnel actions. As Commissioners, we have dedicated ourselves to providing efficient and effective government functions to the taxpayers of this County. That was our sole motivation for transferring a few employees and their related functions back to the County’s fiscal department (now called the Office of Budget and Finance), where they were capably handled for years.

It is an unfortunate reality that these functions were and are not being performed timely or competently under the Controller’s supervision. In fact, repeated errors in basic things such as processing payroll and continued failures to produce reports and year-end entries on time evidenced this poor performance.

Two years ago, the Controller argued that the now transferred functions should be placed under her jurisdiction. The Commissioners agreed to do so with the expectation that the transfer would be seamless and have no effect on County government and County taxpayers. Plainly put, that expectation has not been fulfilled, despite the two years the Controller has had to absorb the functions and debug any problems.

And so it has become apparent to the Commissioners that they need to transfer, at least for now, these functions back to where they were capably handled for many years, to protect the County, its employees, and its citizens. The Controller claims that this action is illegal, but the Commissioners believe otherwise. While the courts may need to resolve that contest, what is beyond dispute is this — the transferred functions that were not competently handled by the Controller will now be done well and timely.”

On April 22, 2021, the Lycoming County Controller’s Office posted the following to its Facebook page:
“The office has completed payroll for Lycoming County Employees, and accounts payable for this week. The accounts payable, approved by Commissioners on Tuesday, was reduced by $46,651.92 due to a corrective action taken by Human Resources on the PA Unemployment Compensation invoices originally submitted for payment. Original PA Unemployment Compensation invoice total, $111,110, amount being paid $64,458.08.
All processing was completed for both payroll and accounts payable before noon today.”
One of the grievances listed by Lycoming County Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger and Tony Mussare in the court filings was Krista B. Rogers, Lycoming County Controller failed to file the 2019 Lycoming County Annual Fiancial Report with the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
In fact, as the (exclusively obtained by TalkWilliamsport.com) 2019 Lycoming County Annual Financial Report reflects on its cover page; it was time stamped as received by DCED on April 19, 2021, the day prior to the filing of the injunctive relief and lawsuit against the Lycoming County Controller.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated 4:55 p.m. Friday, April 23, 2021 with DCED confirmations.
When reached Friday by TalkWilliamsport.com, Casey Smith, DCED Communications Director, provided the following; “The 2019 Lycoming County Audit was received on 4-19-21.  The 2019 audits were due July 1, 2020. The 2020 audits are due July 1, 2021.”
If the financial operations of Lycoming County have gone uninterrupted and may in fact be more streamlined within the Office of Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers even with having multiple employees moved to the Office of Budget and Finance this week, only one question remains.
Was the injunction and subsequent lawsuit filed by the Lycoming County Commissioners against the Lycoming County Controller even necessary?
Lycoming County Commissioners taking unilateral action this morning
Caught in the Middle
Commissioners issue press release in response to TalkWilliamsport.com reporting