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Commissioners respond to controller's latest claim

Published October 27. 2010 05:00PM

A response was made by the Schuylkill County Commissioners to the letter Controller Melinda Kantner attached to her belated annual audit report filed with the Clerk of Courts and Prothonotary's offices in the courthouse and to a state bureau.

Under the Pennsylvania County Code the controller must file a annual report showing the financial spendings of the county. This is filed to the Court of Common Pleas and State Department of Community Economic Development. With the report Kantner attached a letter placing the blame for the lateness of the report on the commissioners who filed their response and request their explanation be added to the audit filed by Kantner.

"With respect to the letter attached to the 2009 financial report the Board of Commissioners and County Administration take exception to this inclusion for the following reasons:

"In our opinion, it was not appropriate for the County Controller to interject argumentive, politically-motivated comments in a financial report which was required by law to be filed with the Court and with DCED.

"In many cases, the gratuitous, self-serving and inappropriate comments included in the Controller's letter were either untrue and/or were deliberately manipulated in an effort to rationalize her failure to comply with the statutory obligations of her position as they relate to the Controller's responsibilities to independently prepare and file those annual financial reports on or before July 1 in accordance with Section 1720 of the County Code and to present herself in a positive light.

"To the contrary, in our opinion, the causes for the said failure and for many of the underlying problems in the Controller's office, stem from the Controller's lack of leadership, lack of cooperation, lack of management and lack of experience. If immediate changes do not occur to address those issues, we believe that those problems will persist and continue to be liabilities for the County's taxpayers going forward, even beyond this controller's administration. As a result of the Controller's inability to honor her statutory duties, the Commissioners may be compelled to add an additional position to the Controller's office to perform accounting support functions neglected by the controller. (One of the reasons raised by Kantner for the delay was that the commissioners had removed an experienced auditor from her office and placed him under their wing).

"Upon information and belief, the reports filed with DCED, the Prothonotary's Office and the Clerk of Courts Office were prepared by the firm of Maillie, Falconiero and Company. It appears the Controller independently contracted with this firm in her personal capacity, since any such agreement was executed without the proper authorization and approval by the Board of Commissioners, as required by the County Code.

"By order dated September 3, 2010, and opinion dated September 7, 2010, the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County ruled that the County Controller was derelect in the performance of her statutory duties and directed her to fulfill those duties no later than October 1, 2010. While the Controller subsequently filed a report on October 1, 2010, we believe that the County Controller is still derelict in the performance of her statutory duties, as evidenced by the cover letter which Mailliue, Falconiero and Company attached to the DCED report and which was filed in the Clerk of Courts office on October 1, 2010.

"In the letter, Maillie, Falconiero and Company clearly states that the numbers presented in the DCED report were compiled numbers prepared by their firm, and were not audited. Yet the County Controller in the report to the DCED signed a statement representing the numbers were audited. Section 1720 of the County Code specifically requires the Controller to perform an audit and to submit the audited numbers to the Courts and the DCED. Therefore, until this inconsistency is remedied and the County Controller submits audited numbers, we believe the Controller remains derelict in the performance of her statutory duties." The statement has the signature of all three county commissioners and the court administrator.

Kantner acknowledged the Maillie Falconiero firm assisted her office with the DCED compilation but claims it was because the auditor hired by the commissioneres to also make an audit "could not provide." Kantner expects the bill to be around $4,800.

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