Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Coal Region Canary
Coal Region CanaryCoal Region Canary

Local News

Schuylkill Budget Folly Continues – Courthouse Says It Needs More Time

Schuylkill County government officials say they need more time to get us a digital copy of the proposed 2022 budget we asked for nearly 2 weeks ago.

Presumably, the budget is saved as a PDF file somewhere on a Courthouse computer but the 5 business days the County had to respond with it attached to an email just wasn’t enough.

To let us know, the County Solicitor’s office attached a letter, saved as a PDF, to an email. The letter actually appears to be a scanned image of the letter on County letterhead.

We got the letter during the last hour of the 5th business day following our initial Right to Know request to see the budget.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The fact that we, or anyone in Schuylkill County, needs to file a Right to Know form with the Courthouse in order to see the proposed 2022 budget is absurd. And it was a topic of discussion last week during the Commissioners meeting.

In response to a request from Commissioner Gary Hess, who questioned why the budget just can’t be placed on the County website, Administrator Gary Bender said officials are “working through” that and Commissioner Boots Hetherington said they’re “workin’ on it.” Since saying they’re working through or on it, the County has managed to post at least 10 PDF files on its site, none of which are the budget.

Schuylkill County Needs More Time to Attach a PDF to an Email

The County cites 3 reasons why it needs more time to fulfill our request for copies of the proposed 2022 budget and the 2021 budget as it was originally passed at the end of 2020.

1. Staffing Limitations

One of the reasons cited for needing more time is “bona fide and specific staffing limitations.”

Yeah, OK.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

2. Legal Review

The second, and most laughable, reason the Courthouse needs more time, they say, is “A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under the RTKL (Right to Know Law).

This is laughable because the County is required by law to have the very document we seek a digital copy of on display. A copy is allegedly on display at the Commissioners office. But viewing it and taking time to review it would require someone to sit in the Courthouse to do so. That could take hours. We’re told the budget is at least 120 pages.

You don’t need any of the umpteen lawyers the Commissioners have contracted or have on staff to tell you that the proposed 2022 budget is definitely available under the Right to Know Law.

3. We’re Asking for Too Much

The third reason given for not responding with a copy of what we want is, they say, we’re just asking for too much. All this in 5 days?

The response letter reads: “The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Apparently, asking for a copy of a document that should be readily available to the general public at any time just can’t be done in 5 full business days.

We’ll Get Back to You

The County says they’ll need up to the 30 days they’re allowed to take with an extension. And they’ll get back to us with a determination on this request by Dec. 29. By the way, that’s more than a week after the finalized budget will be passed.

 

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

We’ve been documenting our path to getting a copy of the proposed 2022 Schuylkill County budget and get it posted to the County website. To date, we’ve encountered nothing but roadblocks and red tape as the Courthouse seems determined at preventing us and anyone else from viewing it on their own.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Read our full coverage: 

Subscribe to Coal Region Canary

Get email updates from Coal Region Canary by becoming a subscriber today. Just enter your email address below to get started!
Loading

News Tips?

Let us know of news happening in your area. Use our NEWS TIPS ENTRY FORM
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Local News

Several Schuylkill County residents say they recently found bizarre printed messages inside packages of items purchased at local grocery stores. The Canary spoke with...

Local Weather

How much are we really going to get? Some say it's still too soon to tell.

Local Weather

Slightly more snow expected for Schuylkill County.

PA News

Flights arriving in the cover of night to NEPA.

Local News

If convicted, Hall faces up to 10 more years in prison.

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

Hamburg Area School District may be joining Tamaqua Area in defying the indoor mask mandate announced by the administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf...