Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What is a County Controller?

Every four years those of us in the suburbs vote for county row offices and, by and large, we have no idea what these offices are or what the people in them do. In an effort to understand these offices myself, and also to present that information to interested readers, I will be looking at selected county row offices, how they are described in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, who holds those offices and if they are up for re-election this year.

Let's start with the county controller. Before looking at the job description, let me add that the county controller in all three counties has another job elsewhere, so it is likely that the controller's position is considered part-time.

In Bucks County, we find this general description on the county's website:

An elected row officer, the controller is the chief financial officer and chief auditor. He exercises general supervision and control over the county's financial affairs. He is authorized to examine the accounts and official acts of all officers or other persons who collect, receive, or disperse the county's money. The controller sits on the retirement board, salary board and prison oversight board. He is the final, independent check on the fiscal activities of the executive and legislative branches of county government as well as the independently elected officers and courts.


The Bucks County controller's office has a fuller description.

Delaware County's controller description is lengthy and detailed. If the topic interests you, please read through it. It includes a broad description, "responsible for overseeing and controlling the expenditure of county funds, ..." and goes into detail, including maintaining travel expense reimbursement records, develop and maintain time and leave reports for all employees, operate and maintain a central payroll system, conduct audits, timely payment of bills, encumbering of funds, retirement board duties, and petty cash funds. It is, of the three counties, the most specific.

Montgomery County's controller has, perhaps, the most general job description. In it's entirety it reads:

The Controller has general supervision over all fiscal affairs of the County and of the accounts of all officers collecting or disbursing County Funds. This includes maintaining payroll records of all Country employees and approving the payment of all invoices charged against the County, except those fees of jurors, witnesses, court criers and tipstaves. Complete records are maintained by the Controller's office detailing all fiscal operations of the County. In addition, the Controller conducts independent audits of County departments, Row Offices, tax collectors and hotels which generate fees and interest monies to the County government. The office maintains all accounting records for the Employees Retirement Fund and acts as a liaison between the County and the investment advisors for the Retirement Fund investment portfolio. The Controller is a member of the Salary Board, Depository Board, Investments Board and is Secretary of Employees' Retirement Board.


To me that sounds like a full-time job, but what do I know.

Currently, the controllers for all three counties are Republicans. Bucks County Controller Raymond F. McHugh is an attorney. Delaware County controller Cynthia Felzer Leitzell is a certified public accountant. Montgomery County controller Eric Kretschman (I could not find a bio on the county website so the link on his name goes to the county GOP bio) is a partner and vice president of acquisitions at a real estate and acquisitions firm. His educational background is in political science.

Only Montgomery County's Eric Kretschman is up for re-election this year.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks very helpful. I was wondering what our county controller did to earn $120,000.