Fayette County Commissioners need to explain to taxpayers NOW – Zelenkofske Axelrod paid but no report given?

The auditing firm has been paid $17,000  invoices reqs checks.  But where’s the report?  This is wrong on so many levels.

By letter dated August 24, 2018 …Yes 2018 Zelenkofske Axelrod set forth an engagement between them and Fayette County regarding the Tax Claim Fund of Fayette County. Read the letter Aug ZA engagement ltr

About 30 days later, September 20, 2018, 2 commissioners (Lohr/Vicites) voted to enter into the agreement, for an amount not to exceed $17,000. See MinutesMinutes

Understanding it takes time to complete the task, I waited for about 6 months before, internally, asking for a copy of the report. I was told each time by the Tax Claim Bureau and Controllers Office that neither were in receipt of it.

By email of June 4, 2019, the auditing firm said they are working on it and hope to have a draft in the next 30 days. See ZA email

By handwritten note dated July 16, 2019 to Vicites/Lohr I asked if they received a copy. No response from either of them

Now more than a year later, by email of October 3, 2019, I again asked the auditing firm for a copy of the report. See ZA email

By letter of October 9, 2019, I wrote the auditing firm. See Oct letter to ZA

So ……….more than One Year later this is we were are:
1. I don’t have a copy of the report despite numerous requests
2.  Tax Claim Bureau & Controllers’ Office don’t have a copy of the report
3.  Vicites/Lohr refuse to respond whether they have a copy of the report
4. The auditing firm has refused to respond to me since June 4, 2019
5. The auditing firm submitted 4 invoices throughout this timeframe
6. Vicites/Lohr approved the 4 payments to the auditing firm
7. The controllers’ office & the computer system confirms invoices reqs checks
8. TheAug ZA engagement ltr states their findings in the “report will be addressed to the County of Fayette Board of Commissioners and Tax Claim Bureau”

Questions being asked by me AND should be asked by you
1. Why has the auditing firm refused to respond?
2. Why have both commissioners refused to respond?
3. Why did 2 commissioners (and county staff) process the last invoice without a report in hand?
4. Why did the county pay the last invoice without receiving the completed work i.e the Report?

As of today October 23, 2019 @ 2:35 pm the Tax Claim Bureau is not in receipt of the report; I am not in receipt of the report; the auditing firm has not responded to me; neither of my fellow commissioners responded.

So what, if anything, will be done?






$476,535 to be distributed – County General Fund still owes $1.7 million

Like I’ve been saying all along….  (also see Chart )                                            (excerpts from Herald Standard coverage of the commissioners meeting)

  •           An audit submitted in 2018 noted expenses already spent out of the sales fund must be transferred from the general fund to the sales fund.
  •           The next step, Witt said, is presenting the 2011 free-and-clear sale distributions in court for approval next week. That will be followed by a 30-day period for objections to distribution amounts and mailings of the judge’s order and property distribution sheets to the former property owners and purchasers of the 155 parcels on the list for that year.
    The county should receive roughly $111,000 from the $476,535 to be distributed, a total that will go back into a tax sale distribution fund, Witt said.
  •         “(I)t’s my understanding that for 2017 and 2018, there’s going to be an adjustment where the funds that were taken out to pay general expenses are going to be put back in to replenish the funds for those years,” Witt said. “And then for 2011 through 2016, all of these sales, all of the distributions that will be going to the county are going to go back into that fund, because once again, funds were taken from that fund, and these are just basically reimbursements from the county.”
    Witt said the county would be able to cover the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2017 free-and-clear sales and 2011, 2012 and 2013 upset sales as well as additional sales beyond those.

And my comment then, before and still now………..  yes while the county proceeds will be returned to the tax claim sale fund to build the account those monies taken from the account incorrectly as per the audit needs be reimbursed by the county general fund. The estimate as per the audit is $1.7 million. Returning the county’s share of the proceeds is correct and will add up but it will not add up to the estimated $1.7 while taking the costs from it at the same time.  I am no mathematician, I am no CPA (but then again neither is Sam Lynch I am told), I have never filed bankruptcy but I can do simple math.        Two commissioners do not want to replace these funds because doing so would mean allocating  the estimated $1.7 million which means raise taxes or reduce overall costs. It is a debt of the General Fund and if the year end audit always performed by Zelenkofske Axelrod fails to give the Finding they are not doing their job. (note they gave the finding in 2004).    I will continue to monitor.

Also, yes it must be chronological out of fairness to those lienholders waiting. There are more than just school and municipalities as lien holders. I understand Lohr and Vicites want 2016 done because it is under their watch but you dont take such an action to make it look good on your part. We must do so chronologically.             Chart

$ commissioner candidates spent in the Primary 2015 & the contributors

Since you’ve asked here you go ….   In order of the highest campaign expenses:

Note * Campaign Expense Reports are due the 2nd Friday before the Primary and 30 days after the Primary.  These amounts represent the total expenses/debt reported by each candidate for both campaign expense reports which means for the Primary.

Pat Lion reported expenses and unpaid debt of $24,676

Al Ambrosini reported expenses 16,155 (plus $30,000 unpaid debt is a loan to self listing  election debt for 2010 and 2011 which is odd given his only prior election was in 2011)

Dave Lohr reported expenses and unpaid debt of $7,590 (in addition lists In Kind Contribution from Pat Lion of $4,000 for mailers & $80 from Susan Sickle WMBS radio time)

Vince Vicites reported expenses and unpaid debt of $8,815

Angela Zimmerlink reported expenses of $5,126 (no unpaid debt)

Evelyn Hovanec reported expenses of $2,045 (no unpaid debt reported)

Now some of you may have noticed a slight change in this blog post. Since posting the other day I’ve been asked to update my blog to include significant contributors because neither newspaper reported the names and their associations.

Airport tenants and/or current or former airport board members –  Gary Sobek , Matt Thomas, Joe Maher

Current or former vendors of the county:   Charles Friedlander,  former county retirement pension fund ;  Gary Sefchok, current health benefits contractor,  Frank Ricco, (ricco bus lines) ;   Rob Sleighter, Engineer;  John Garlow, Ford Business Machines, Cory Johnson,  Zelenkofske Axelrod county auditors from Harrisburg

Miscellaneous   Friends of Harry Fike, (housing authority board member) ;  Harry Joseph housing authority board member; James Davis, law firm representing housing authority;  Friends of Jack Heneks, (current DA) ;  Ken Burkley former county solicitor,  Fred Ziegler, Mike Ward, political consultant; and numerous union PACs