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2/7/2013 - County Controller Responds to Accusations of Fiscal Irresponsibility
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Butler County's Controller responded angrily to accusations of fiscal irresponsibility in his office at Wednesday's meeting.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Bruce Mazzoni, a Cranberry Township Supervisor and a member of the Butler County Community College Board of Trustees, accused Jack McMillin of authorizing excessive overtime, in comparison with other fourth-class counties.
Mazzoni said he was helping Ben Holland do a benchmark study on all the fourth-class county controller offices as part of research in Holland's bid for the office.
"In the information that I received from the Butler County Controller dated December 21, 2012," began Mazzoni, "he indicated that $37,694 of overtime was used in 2012. In all other eight fourth-class counties, no overtime was used except for $59 for Franklin."
The study Mazzoni performed included the counties of Beaver, Cambria, Centre, Fayette, Franklin, Monroe, Schuylkill and Washington Counties, in addition to Butler County. Mazzoni said he compiled the study using right-to-know information.
"This is the best apple-to-apple comparison of the offices you can get," Mazzoni said.
Mazzoni also requested a month-to-month breakdown for 2012 of overtime given to McMillin's first deputy.
"The first deputy, with her base salary plus the $14,378 overtime has a combined income of $76,753," said Mazzoni. "That figure is not only higher than all the first deputies of the other eight counties, but it is also higher than all the other eight controllers of the other fourth-class counties."
"Was it for a special project, or was overtime given evenly month to month?" Mazzoni asked.
Commissioner James Eckstein defended the overtime.
"There's a lot of departments in this county," Eckstein said. "What Jack's office does, is help other departments. I think they're doing a really good job on this."
Eckstein went on to say that especially around budget time, overtime is necessary because of the long process involved with it.
Then came McMillin's turn. He prefaced his remarks by thanking Eckstein.
"I do not allow any of this work to begin without having in hand a signed letter authorizing that overtime," said McMillin. "And it includes specific language that its to be paid to all individuals performing to the work. But let's get to the real source of this issue."
That source, according to McMillin, is due to his ongoing stance concerning the county's annual payment to Butler County Community College.
That payment for 2013 was reduced by $333,000.
The college routinely receives about $5 million annually. McMillin has long regarded the payments as excessive, and has made no secret of it.
In January of 2011, McMillin withheld $1.2 million in county funds to the college, after a cost-study he requested the college supply him with omitted information that McMillin felt was necessary.
In addition to his seat on BC3's Board of Trustees, Mazzoni also serves as the board's treasurer.
"He is very upset that I have, for the last three years, been raising a very important issue," said McMillin. "And that is the $14 million slush fund, and that's what it is. It actually exceeds the $12 million figure that has been quoted because there's another $2 million stashed in a fund that's easily seen on the audited financial statement."
McMillin went on to attack the salaries of BC3's controller and Vice President of Finance, implying that they were excessive.
"The two financial officers of the college...together have total compensation that exceeds $250,000. They have a ten percent 401K plan. Unheard of."
McMillin then turned his attention to the rest of Mazzoni's report, calling the population figures 'bogus' and two of the counties in the study do not have nursing homes.
"My office wrote 12,000 checks last year to vendors," McMillin said. "Four thousand of those checks went to vendors who performed work for the nursing home."
In an email McMillin sent to the board of commissioners on Friday, January 25th, McMillin said Mazzoni's frequent right-to-know requests hampered his office by diverting limited resources at the busiest time of the year.
"Mr. Mazzoni appears to be singling out and obsessing on legitimate, board-authorized overtime paid to one of the county's most valuable and dedicated employees," McMillin wrote.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," was McMillin's concluding remark to Mazzoni.
By Ken Hawk for insidebutlercounty.com
Bruce Mazzoni (top) and Jack McMillin
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