Kevin Gaughen, a real-estate broker, is the executive director for the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party. Silver Spring Township is near Harrisburg and he has been living there for 10 years. He worries about the management of his community’s finances.
Gaughen, a writer-in candidate for the township auditor in 2021 decided that he would run. He mobilized his friends and handed out postcards to voters with the message, “Write in Kevin Gaughen for Audior” on Election Day. Improbably, he won. Silver Spring Township’s manager doesn’t want him to do his job.
Gaughen attended the first year-end meeting of the supervisors board, which is a 5-person group that governs the organization.[s]Supervise[s]”The township. His swearing in was, to his delight, not on the agenda. Gaughen says that accountWhen he brought up the matter during public comment, the board said it was an oversight. He would then be sworn into office at the next meeting. Raymond Palmer, township manager sent an email days later. emailThe township retained Maher Duessel as its accounting firm to act as the auditors. “The elected auditor’s duties are lifted when a Township hires an auditor.” (Palmer failed to respond by email or SMS to our request for comment).
The authority of a township to appoint an audit firm is theirs. Silver Spring Township has retained Maher duessel from at least 2010. (A Maher Duessel representative did not reply to voicemails or emails requesting comments.
Jennifer Moore is chair of Pennsylvania Libertarian Party and also an auditor for her township. For larger towns with higher budgets, she believes it’s necessary to have an accountant on her local board. She tells us that she is not a professional accountant. There are reasonsHowever, we still have a job: The people elected us to ensure that things are going well. Moore’s example is that the firm compiles an audit and the board of chosen auditors reviews it for any issues.
Pennsylvania’s township auditor position isn’t particularly high-ranking or powerful. Salaries are capped at $2,000 annually—half that for smaller municipalities. Auditors review the finances of their towns and submit an annual report to state capital. The auditors also determine the salary of the supervisors. There are three auditors in each township, with staggered 6-year terms.
Township auditors are responsible for setting salaries of supervisors, as well as financial auditing reporting. In order to determine fines and other costs due to townships, they may look into “official records from the district justices” (similar to small claims court). The board of auditors has the power to investigate if a township issues too many tickets or assesses excessive fines. It is also able to subpoena members of the supervisor board and fine any taxpayer-misusing supervisor. These functions would not be possible if an accounting firm was involved.
Gaughen stated that he sees them placing projects and doesn’t think they are doing fair bidding. There are reasons. “I see them handing deals out” without putting it through a “fair bidding process… There’s a lot of items of concern that I see in this township, and I thought, ‘I want to get involved, I want to open the books, I want to start attending these township meetings, and I want to know exactly what’s going on here.'”
The board of supervisors may not be even. Allowed A solely reliant on an accounting company for audits. Moore also holds an MBA. Moore says that they simply cannot do it under the election law. It is a violation to the election code. According to the election code, they must MayA CPA is available to hire, however they will still need a board. The state law says that an accountant, firm, or other professional is allowed to be appointed. But, they must have a board of audits. A representative of Governor’s Center for Local Government Services did not reply to calls seeking comment.
Gaughen sought to find out what the next steps would be in order to figure out his options. Chris Trafton was a Republican candidate in 2019, but he is an independent. Interview with There are reasonsTrafton said that he had a similar experience as Gaughen. Tired of being surrounded by “shenanigans,” Trafton decided to take up the position of auditor in townships and ran a successful campaign using word-of mouth. The town officials appeared surprised that he was there to get certified for his new position. “We’ve been trying to close those,” he was informed. [positions]In the election”, anyway. Since a third party auditing company is “no point having auditors at any time.”
Trafton shared also with There are reasonsA copy of the email sent by Theresa Eberly, the then-township manager. Eberly sent an email that was almost identical to Palmer’s email, in which she stated that the elected auditor’s duties are lifted when a municipality appoints auditing firms. Eberly moved into a new position and didn’t respond to questions emailed to him.
Silver Spring Township has three registered auditors as of the Cumberland County website. Gaughen (and Trafton) are still to be seated. Kathleen Albright has apparently moved away from the township, and she has not yet been replaced. Albright replied to the text message but declined to take part in interview.
Although it’s possible that Silver Springs Township’s board of supervisors operates in good faith, by refusing to appoint an auditor, and instead depending on its replacement hand-picked, the board violates not only state law, but also the fundamental principles of good governance. Gaughen stated that the auditor was “a watchdog for citizens”, created to prevent economic malfeasance. It is not my opinion that an auditor should audit the hiring party if they have a financial interest in the township.