Commissioner Kopas Unveils Budget Savings And Reform Plan

GREENSBURG (February 6, 2014) – Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas today proposed reforms to the Commissioners’ offices that will save taxpayers more than $350,000 annually by laying off staff members, and ending a high-priced lobbying contract and travel perks.

“I believe in leadership by example,” Commissioner Kopas said. “And if we are serious about reforming county government and reducing the $10.6 million budget deficit my colleagues approved this year, change needs to start with the Commissioners. I am hopeful that Commissioners Anderson and Courtney will embrace these reforms. It’s the right thing to do.”

The first proposed change is to eliminate the position of County Commissioner Aide. Removing these three jobs will save taxpayers roughly $260,000 in salary and benefits.

“Putting an end to Aides will no doubt result in more work for the Commissioners, but it’s a challenge I look forward to,” Kopas said. “I once worked as an Aide, so I appreciate their value, but these positions are luxuries the county can no longer afford.

“In addition to the financial benefit, there will operational improvements as well. It will make Commissioners interact more directly with our constituents, our employees, and each other, rather than relying on surrogates.”

Commissioners will still have an administrative support person to assist with constituent service, scheduling, correspondence and other duties, in addition to dozens of department heads to help manage county services and programs.

Second, Commissioner Kopas once again called on his colleagues to end an expensive lobbying contract that costs taxpayers $90,000 annually. Commissioner Kopas voted against this contract late last year.

“To protect taxpayers, we need to be willing to make tough choices,” Commissioner Kopas said. “We’ll need to ask more of county staff and work in stronger cooperation with our state and federal partners to advance the county’s goals. But we can, and should, do the jobs we were elected to do and not rely on high-priced lobbyists.”

Finally, Commissioner Kopas called for a revision to the county’s travel policy, ending mileage reimbursement for Commissioners’ travel within Westmoreland County. This move will save taxpayers approximately $3,500 a year.

“I’ve always viewed the entire county, not just the County Courthouse, as the Commissioners place of business,” Kopas said. “While the dollar value of this move may be low, its symbolic value is immensely important. We should not be billing taxpayers to do our elected responsibility throughout the county. And frankly, we get paid enough to buy our own gas.”

Since taking office in 2010, Commissioner Kopas has helped reform county government to save tax dollars, such as ending take home cars for Commissioners and eliminating high-paid positions on the Board of Assessment Appeals. He has never accepted mileage reimbursement for any travel or a county cell phone.

For more information, visit www.TedKopas.com.