Home Rule is no rule

Upon hearing and reading the comments and assumptions put forth by the leadership of the Home Rule Commission, I felt the need to respond. Having spent most of my working career as a certified CPA, the thought of eliminating the Treasurer and Controller’s Office seems extremely foolish. Those positions are an element of checks and balances and should remain intact for the sake of the taxpayers. Those positions are responsible for maintaining an eye on taxpayer’s dollars, certainly much needed positions. Those positions do not answer to the administration or City Council. They are responsible to the Auditor General’s office. The idea is to eliminate potential collusion of an administration and in-house finance office responsible to the administration. These offices need to remain so taxpayers will know someone is watching their money.

I noted Ms. Ayers was quick to comment about the lack of need for these positions and very insultingly insinuated that those in these positions are not qualified to be there. I’m curious as to who on the commission is qualified to make such a judgment. The fact is, the Controller’s Office brings a total of 63 years of experience in the accounting and bookkeeping field. Maybe when Ms. Ayers accumulates 63 years of experience she will be qualified to pass judgment in a more appropriate fashion and possibly learn some manners too.

The Controller’s Office maintains accurate records and follow up procedures when it comes to numerous city expenses and incoming revenue. In the process, they have managed to help save the city money on a number of occasions, as well as curb unnecessary or questionable expenditures.

The Controller’s Office is also subject to the lowest amount of budgeted funds in City Hall. One person who will take on all that responsibility would likely seek much more in salary than is currently expended on the Controller’s Office. Additionally, that person would answer only to the administration which could potentially allow for questionable spending and accounting practices without oversight. By the way, those in the Controller’s Office have been bonded in the past in the amount of a million or more dollars by major financial institutions. Sounds like someone valued their professional experience. Maybe 63 years of professional experience really is a qualifier. As to the Treasurer, my research tells me that Mr. Grimes has been a major asset to the city by updating old files, addressing delinquent taxes with good success and finding more ways to cut costs and raise revenue than has been done in the past. Surely his work is laudable and necessary.

The Home Rule Commission is made up nearly entirely of those who lobbied for Home Rule long before the commission was set up. They entered into the process with a predetermined mindset to promote Home Rule and have made things messy.

The commission has been bogus from the start and their assumptions and judgments have been inaccurate at best. If Ms. Ayers’ approach to Home Rule is what the city can expect in that system, Williamsport can do without it. Home Rule is no rule!

Marcia Abrams

Retired CPA (City)