I wanted to share a note of compliment I sent to County Commissioners this morning after attending a meeting last night. It is not often I (in fact I never have) given a wholesale compliment like this to a board applauding the way they conduct business. The entire 9 person board and Chair Brad Osborne deserve praise.
I wanted to take a moment to give you all a Compliment. I decided to come to last night’s meeting at about 6pm. Hind-site was a good decision. I was interested in the LCA appointments in general but didn’t have strong opinions on the subject. Note: I agree with the decision to retain some members, but replace the chair. I have mixed feelings about LCA’s role in the water lease but have always been and remain concerned about overflows along the L. Lehigh which I live next to. New blood in the case of the LCA board is warranted.
Regarding the LCA topic. First, it was tedious. That being said, it was also great government. It was (painfully) clear Commissioners weren’t prepared to vote until they all understood a complicated maneuver. This demonstrated to me as an observer in the gallery that this issue was not “worked out” beforehand and that last night you conducted the business of County in public. Not behind closed doors as is far too often the case. Discussion was slow, deliberate and purposeful. Didn’t make for great theater, but it makes for great government.
I actually left the meeting with a little bit of a headache, but as we know sometimes good government does that. Our representative republic has a tradition of separation of powers, checks and balances and conducting meetings in the public eye. Local boards mirror that American tradition. Far too often bodies I am very familiar with simply do not operate in this fashion. Issues aren’t explained in detail, officials don’t explain their positions, deals are worked out beforehand instead of hashed out in the public, chairs keep one eye on the clock as if meetings have an expiration time. Public input is only lip service. None of this appeared to be the case last night.
It was very clear that County Commissioners conducted the business of the County in the sunshine. Good Government does not operate at light speed. And yes, sometimes it can be tedious. I appreciate that. All 9 members of the board impressed me last night. Thank you.
5540 Lower Macungie Rd.
Every four years those of us in Lehigh county vote for the row offices. By and large, folks have no idea what these offices are or what the people in them do. I’m including myself here. At least up until a couple years ago. Link to Controllers 2013 report.
In Lehigh County one of those elected “row offices” is the County Controller. Next year it’s one of the positions that will be up for election. Currently the office is held by Glenn Eckhart. In Lehigh County the position is paid. In the past there has been discussion on whether the row offices in general should be elected or appointed. The job description is defined by the County Charter. Today the controllers office has 6 employees ranging from clerks to accountants.
According to the LC government website the Controllers duties include:
- Examine the propriety of internal control
- Assess compliance with statutory requirements
- Evaluate operating procedures
- Audit the accuracy and completeness of records and files pertaining to the receipt and disbursement of County funds by all officers, agents, and employees of the County
To sum this up the controller is basically an elected working manager for the county’s accounting dept. He/she is the elected fiscal watchdog of the County. The office conducts assessments of management performance and program results of county departments and agencies to evaluate efficiency and use of taxpayer funds. To sum this up the controller is responsible for delivering a yearly report to the Board of Commissioners.
Although controller candidates usually run based on party affiliation they do their job best when they operate from a political neutral standpoint. Beyond the watchdog role in Lehigh County the controller only has one responsibility that directly has to do with policy. That is the controllers seat as secretary (and voting member) of the retirement board. It’s basically the controllers one direct influence on policy decisions but it’s a pretty important one in relation to the County’s long term finances.
WFMZ – Lehigh County Controller Annual Report
Here is a link to the Controllers complete 2013 report.