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Feud between controller and commissioners continues

Published July 22. 2010 05:00PM

At the work session of the Schuylkill County Salary Board held Wednesday Controller Melinda Kantner made a motion to have her name removed from signature of checks for two positions she claims were illegally created by the county commissioners in the juvenile probation department.

The motion died because it was not seconded by any other member of the salary board to bring it to a vote. Commissioners Mantura Gallagher and Frank Staudenmeier remained silent. Commissioner Frank McAndrew, the fourth member of the salary board, was absent.

County Solicitor Eric Mika told Kantner she was not a lawyer to conclude the action was illegal and told the other members of the salary board he had not received any memo from Kantner's solicitor questioning the action taken and a recent meeting approving the two positions.

A few weeks ago the commissioners, at their public meeting, approved a revision of the union contract with the juvenile probation office which was negotiated by an assistant county solicitor, Edward Brennan, who at a later meeting told Kantner the two positions were not new but were renamed as part of restructuring the juvenile probation office and no action was needed by the salary board.

At a public meeting recently Brennan reported the contract with Court Related Union One was amended. Because of a retirement the position of fiscal/para legal administrator was changed to fiscal administrator assistant and the position of secretary 1 was changed to secretary 2.

Kantner insisted the commissioners circumvented the salary board and the county code with their action. She said she has filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office and is awaiting a response.

She also raised questions involving non-payment of compensatory time to county employees.

"I must caution the board of commissioners that the county is inviting potential litigation if the intention is to completely erase or obliterate this earned time," she warned. "It is my opinion, that this violates the Fair Labor Standards Act."

She asked, "Has anyone contacted the Department of Labor for an opinion?"

She received no answer.

She concluded, "Time earned is time paid or in the case of comp time the employee should be given the option of taking the earned time off in lieu of pay."

After the meeting Mark Scarbinsky, county administrator, said the county has followed terms of the union contract it has with employees.

This was the latest incident in an ongoing feud between Kantner and the commissioners.

Last week an in-house memo surfaced in which Scarbinsky announced a new policy adopted which went into effect July 12 limiting Kantner's contacts with county employees because complaints have been filed against her by employees claiming harassment. Kantner claimed she was only doing her job in questioning bills submitted.

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