Discord in Commissioners’ Office? Abramovic Rescinds Authorization for Brooks to Sign on His Behalf

| June 13, 2018


FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Is there discord in Venango County Commissioners’ office?

At Tuesday’s Venango County Commissioner’s meeting, Commissioner Albert “Chip” Abramovic issued a memorandum rescinding his authorization for County Commissioner Chairman Tim Brooks to sign on his behalf concerning county business.

(Photo from left: Venango County Commmissioners Vince Witherup, Tim Brooks, and Albert “Chip” Abramovic at Tuesday’s meeting)

“Effective immediately, I am rescinding any authorization previously given to Venango County Commissioner Tim Brooks, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, pursuant to Venango County County Resolution 2016-1 to execute any document, contract or other writing on behalf of the Venango County Commissioners,” Abramovic said reading the memorandum he then handed to Brooks.

The memorandum means that Brooks can no longer sign any contracts on behalf of Abramovic, something Resolution 2016-1 had previously given him permission to do.

That does not mean that Brooks cannot sign county contracts, as it only takes approval of two county commissioners to sign those contracts, and Commissioner Vincent Witherup has not rescinded his permission for Brooks to sign on his behalf at this point.

“With everything going on, it’s best,” Abramovic said.

When asked what “everything” meant, Abramovic said it was about “transparency” issues.

“To fully see everything that is going through the county before it is approved or signed,” Abramovic said. “To bring transparency a little bit more in depth, so we can see what is being signed and addressed.”

“It is just a simple fact that before he signs something, I want to see it before he signs it and approve it, so I know what is going out the door.”

While Witherup didn’t put forth his own memorandum, he did say that Abramovic’s action would create more transparency.

“It ensures (that) commissioners current and future see all of the paperwork that is going through,” Witherup said. “That is all. It is nothing more than that in my mind. I don’t see a big deal in the whole thing. It’s a good thing. It isn’t anything bad. It’s no big deal in my mind. It’s just another safeguard. It’s just something that should be done.”

Abramovic said he didn’t know if any documents have been signed by Brooks that he wasn’t aware of.

“I don’t have an answer for that,” Abramovic said. “In all generality, if something is signed that I don’t know about or I don’t approve of, it’s a way of clarifying. My name is on the hook if something is signed that I don’t approve or didn’t see.”

Brooks said it is his belief that has not happened.

“Anything that is ever signed by anybody that has that authority has always been discussed and has to be attested to by the chief clerk,” Brooks said. “It is not someone signing something unilaterally. I can’t do anything by myself. Nothing has ever been signed that hasn’t been approved by all three of us and looked at by all three of us.”

“If Chip feels that has been happening that is wrong and it’s my fault that he doesn’t feel fully informed, but he has been. Everything that is signed has been discussed and, again, Shelly (Hartle), the Chief Clerk of the county, has to attest to everything that is signed. Nothing is signed and sent forward without everyone knowing about it. But if (Chip) doesn’t feel that way, then absolutely. I am not sure what else we can do.”

That being said, Brooks said there is nothing wrong with Abramovic rescinding his authorization.

“That’s fine,” Brooks said. “No problems. Everything is always seen by everyone here.”

Brooks and Abramovic both confirmed that Abramovic’s notice didn’t come out of the blue.

“We talked about this several weeks ago,” Brooks said. “Everything was sent before and everything is being sent now, too. I don’t know what wasn’t being received in the past, but if he doesn’t feel he was being fully informed, then he needs to let us know that.”

When Brooks was asked if he believed this was in response to his filing of an ethics complaint against Abramovic, an investigation that found Abramovic not guilty of any ethics violations, he said he didn’t know.

“You would have to ask Chip what it is in response to,” Brooks said.

When asked, Abramovic pointed to the transparency reason.

Witherup said he doesn’t see the change in signatures affecting county business.

“As far as I am concerned, business is going on as usual,” Witherup said. “I personally don’t see a change to it. It is nothing more than housekeeping as far as I am concerned.”

OTHER BUSINESS

The rest of the commissioners meeting was routine in nature. Some of the highlights included:

  • The ratification of a contract with Johnson Control for installation of a system to monitor temperature control in county buildings. The cost of the contract is $7,231.00. Johnson Controls will install alarms that will notify someone in the county is a temperature control is working properly. Over the winter, there was an issue with the heat going off in the County Courthouse, and this system will help fix that problem.
  • The entering into of a contract with Whalen Contracting, Inc., for ADA compliant parking at Pinegrove Township Fire Hall. The new parking pad will be paid for through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies.
  • A contract was renewed with Securus Technologies for inmate video conferencing at the county jail. The cost of the contract was $1,720.
  • A resolution (2018-12) was approved authorizing the shared purchase with Crawford County of an in-band radio repeater to help the Chapmanville VFD with communications. Chapmanville serves both countries.
  • A contract with Baker & Bellis Auctioneer for the sale of surplus items was agreed to. The auction will take place at 5 p.m. June 14 at the Manor Building. The cost of the contract is estimated to be 10 percent of the sale or $1,800.00.
  • Abramovic congratulated the Rocky Grove baseball team on making it to the PIAA Class 2A championship game. The Orioles will play at 1 p.m. Thursday at Penn State.
  • A pair of proclamations were read. One recognizing the Bicentennial of the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1818, and the other to recognize June 4-8 as Child Welfare Professional appreciation week.
  • The next commissioners meeting will be held at 6 p.m. July 10, in Room 100 of the Courthouse Annex Building.

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