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Schuylkill County News

Schuylkill Commissioners Agree to Pay Consultant’s Invoice Without an Invoice Submitted

Yeah, this is normal.

Schuylkill County Commissioners this week approved a consulting contract for someone working in its Tax Claims office.

The trouble is, they unanimously approved paying this consultant – at a rate of $45 per hour – without knowing just how much they’re spending.

Yes, they really did this.

Consultant Paid Unknown Amount of Money on Commissioners Unanimous Vote

During Wednesday’s Work Session meeting, the Commissioners were asked to vote on approving the March 2024 Designee Contracts.

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As we learned last year, these Designee Contracts are approved, typically, during the first meeting of the month, whether that be a Work Session meeting or a Board Meeting, when most votes are taken.

These contracts are brought forward by County Administrator Gary Bender.

Voting on these Designee Approved contracts is basically the Commissioners agreeing to pay invoices already submitted.

On the list of Designee Approved Contracts for March is one to a Susan Graver, of Tremont, for a $45 per hour administrative consulting services deal.

Interestingly, this particular contract is backdated to March 14 and runs through April 10. Based on the discussion during Wednesday’s meeting, Graver is providing “consulting” services in the Tax Claims office at the Schuylkill County Courthouse.

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Before the vote, Commissioner Gary Hess asked Bender how much money they were being asked to approve. How many hours had she worked?

He did not really get an answer.

To his question, Bender replied, “I would imagine, in that period of time, it might be … I don’t know. She’s been here like 3 days a week.”

Bender also said that Graver hasn’t yet submitted an invoice for the work she’s completed so far.

Hess then asked how Bender determined why the contract for Graver is $45 per hour.

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“That was the standard one we had used before when Mr. (Tony) Alu was here. That was something we negotiated, at $45,” Bender said.

Based on our archives research, previous contracts for outside consultants at the Tax Claims office, for Alu and Virginia Murray, were approved at $40 per hour, not $45.

Commissioners Chairman Larry Padora asked Bender if there’s a cap on Graver’s contract.

Bender said, “It’s as-needed only, yes.”

The Administrator told Commissioners that Graver’s hours will decrease “as time goes on.”

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That’s not really a cap, is it?

After that someone frustrating line of questioning, Commissioner Boots Hetherington reminded Padora that a motion and second had already been made to take a vote, basically prodding him to call for a vote on the contract.

The Commissioners then unanimously approved to pay Graver for whatever invoice she submits during this contract time.

Extending the Contract

Based on the Agenda presented at the Work Session meeting on Wednesday, it appears the Commissioners will be asked to extend Graver’s consulting services contract, too.

On the Agenda, which will likely be voted on next week, is a contract for Graver at the same rate, $45 per hour, at the Tax Claim office.

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Again, it’s stated that this will be an “as needed” contract and “subject to the County ‘Terms and Conditions’.”

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  1. Coalregion12

    April 5, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    Whenever you hear the name “Bender” and contract(s) in the courthouse,grab your pocketbook taxpayers of Schuylkill County.
    Someone should FOIA the actual contract w/ Graver.
    Love to know who drew up the contract(solicitor?).

  2. Tom

    April 6, 2024 at 10:07 am

    Looks like we have Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dumb, and Dumber sitting in the commissioner chairs, spending our taxpayer dollars. I would say What a joke, but no one will be laughing when our taxes go up to cover the irresponsible spending. Sad to see Gary Bender, as county administrator, running operations behind the scenes and then twisting commissioners’ arms to sign off on his conniving plots.

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