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Local Politics

Is it Time to Make Elected County Officials Punch the Clock?

Election Day is November 5.

That’s sooner than you think:

As you stare at the aging touchscreen ballot, you’ll be participating in the most underrated election of them all, the Municipal election.

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That’s when we, at the local level, pick the people in charge of administering the business of local government. There’s a lot of your money on the line.

And around here, it’s apparent we’ve been picking some people who don’t have the public’s best interest in mind.

This November, we’re not exactly sure the people you’ll pick between are much better, either.

Schuylkill County Municipal Election 2019

The municipal election is where you pick local candidates for offices like borough council, school board, and offices at Schuylkill County Courthouse.

For seats on borough council and school board, winners are looking at part-time jobs with very little pay.

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But then there are those offices at the Courthouse. You’re picking people for those seats, too.

Only, with those, they’re hardly part-time jobs. In fact, you can make an argument they’re among the best jobs in Schuylkill County:

  • County Commissioner
  • Clerk of Courts
  • Register of Wills
  • Coroner
  • Treasurer
  • Controller
  • Prothonotary
  • Recorder of Deeds

The job descriptions on these gigs sound nauseating. But the pay is fantastic by Schuylkill County standards. And then there’s the benefits package. There’s a reason people fight like hell and put up all those road signs for these jobs and not the thankless uphill climbs in municipal and school politics.

According to the Times-News, here are the current salaries for the elected county offices. These salaries could and probably will go up in 2020. They were approved in 2018 through the end of this year:

  • County Commissioner Chairperson = $63,956.95
  • 2 County Commissioners @ $61,292.09 each = $122,584
  • Clerk of Courts = $57,295.91
  • Register of Wills = $62,626.79
  • Coroner = $45,303.97
  • Treasurer = $57,295.91
  • Controller = $60,416.91
  • Prothonotary = $57,295.91
  • Recorder of Deeds = $57,295.91

So, with these salaries at the Courthouse, you’d expect the people who fight as hard as they do to win to put in an honest effort to earn their keep. At the very least, you’d look at these salaries and think these are definitely full-time jobs.

Well, you’re not getting the honesty or the effort. And you’re definitely not getting full-time work, at least not on county business from everyone. So, we want to know if it’s time to start making these elected officials punch the proverbial clock going forward.

We’ve discovered through some inside interviews and public reporting that when these elected officials aren’t on the job at the Courthouse, they’re likely tending to personal business. Of course, at the same time, we’ve learned the hard way that the more time they spend around the Courthouse, the more damage they’re likely to do.

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Part-Time Work for Full-Time Pay

“It’s a part-time job, I thought,” one former County employee tells the Canary.

They were talking about how often one recently castoff Schuylkill County row officer showed up for that job at the Courthouse. It wasn’t this person’s job to monitor other County employees or elected officials but they estimated they were on the job about half the time you’d expect them to be there.

And we’ve heard from at least one other former employee and countless accusations suggest that these particular elected office holders just aren’t at work as often as you’d expect them to be. Worse, no one is holding them accountable.

Well, if Schuylkill County is as strapped as we know it to be, are you OK with the most expensive public employees putting in less than a full day of work for a comfortable full-time salary?

Is that how it works for you at your job? Doubtful.

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Steve Lukach — What Happens When They Spend Too Much Time at the Courthouse

Of course, as we ask if we should expect and demand that the people pulling down these handsome salaries from the County to put in more time at work, consider Steve Lukach.

He’s the former Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts who’s facing serious jail time for masterminding a corruption scheme in which he took public money to handle personal business and help out some family members.

The level of complexity of Lukach’s crimes suggest he spent as much time at the Courthouse as anyone. But a lot of that time was spent falsifying records to cover up his crimes.

Making Elected Officials Punch the Clock

With the exception of the County Commissioners, these elected positions at the County level aren’t really political in nature.

Essentially, the elected official to every job but Commissioner, is a glorified Office Manager. The Commissioners are like the CEO and Executive VPs. That’s not to say and parrot the line that “we should run the County like a business” but it should resemble some kind of business, and not a failing one with absolutely no one in charge.

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But for all these jobs, we pick a lot of politicians or people who politicians have picked to run for these jobs.

And that’s what these are; these are basically office jobs.

So if they’re jobs, should we make the people with them punch a time clock?

They do in New York, to a degree. It’s called the Standard Work Day and Reporting Resolution.

Any elected or appointed official in New York government that’s part of the state pension system is required to fill out a time sheet at the beginning of their term, based on the work they did over a certain period of time.

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Of course, since it’s county government, specifically Schuylkill County government, even systems designed to promote accountability can and probably will be corrupted.

That’s what’s happening in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, some county officials feared that Beaver employees were abusing the punch-in/punch-out system. And then they have certain offices which feel should be exempt from punching in and out.

Let Us Know …

Should Schuylkill County’s elected officials be forced to punch a time clock when they start working?

[poll id=8540]

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  1. coalregion12

    September 23, 2019 at 9:24 am

    But if there is aNewspaper or Television reporter anywhere in the Courthouse, boy oh boy do these elected officials seem to be there.
    The bigger question is should these officers be elected or just appointed?
    It is more a popularity contest than anything for the majority of these positions.

    • admin

      September 23, 2019 at 9:56 am

      If you think nepotism is bad now with us electing them, imagine how many relatives would get hooked up if just a few up there got to appoint row officers.

      • colaregion12

        September 23, 2019 at 1:53 pm

        Nepotism is alive and well at that place!!
        Only remedy to that will be Civil Service testing.
        Civil service testing helped with Police/Fire Departments years ago when the “powers in charge” picked who would be in those departments.
        State went to that system may not get rid of all nepotism but at least some.

  2. insider

    September 23, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Hi.Im George Halcovage.Can I take a selfie with you?

    • AngieOvertaxed

      September 24, 2019 at 12:59 pm

      Theresa Santai-Gaffney, Register of Wills, owns and operates a health care business and covers day-shift hours when her employees don’t show for work.

  3. Just sayin

    June 27, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    They should punch the clock for sure. Everyone else has to.

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