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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Barron Wants Brown and Allen to Reimburse $1,500 For Improper Travel, Meals

Below is a memorandum that Controller Steve Barron just sent to Northampton County Exec John Brown and Deputy Director of Administration Cathy Allen.

Based on a tip from the county fraud website and multiple reports from citizens of Northampton County, I was called upon to review mileage and expense reimbursements for the Northampton County Executive as well as the Assistant Director of Administration.

Upon review of mileage reimbursement submitted by Catherine Allen and John Brown it has been determined that certain items violated county policy and should be reimbursed to the county. The following, details outline this and the amounts to be reimbursed.

IRS Publication 463 and Northampton County Policy for Travel, Meals and Mileage Reimbursement (Implemented 6/1/2007 rev. 1/22/2008).

Under normal and customary circumstances the IRS does not allow for distance from or to home and a normal work site. This is commonly called a daily commute. Northampton County Policy states the following:
Commuting mileage between an employee’s residence and his/her normal worksite is not reimbursable. If an employee is required to commute from and to the employee’s residence and a worksite within the County other than his/her normal worksite, that mileage is reimbursable to the extent that the distance from the residence to the temporary worksite exceeds the distance from residence to the normal worksite. Department Heads must maintain records of normal commuting mileage in order to verify this difference.
This policy also discusses reimbursement for meals and states:
When traveling on County business on a “day trip” (no overnight stay) over fifty (50) miles from the employee’s regular work site or home, expenses incurred for lunch will be reimbursed pursuant to the schedule set forth below. Such reimbursement, however, is contingent upon the employee providing appropriate receipts and timely submitting the appropriate reimbursement forms. Meal expenses incurred in conjunction with “day trips” within fifty (50) miles of the employee’s regular work site or home are not reimbursable.
There is also a policy that limits the amount to be paid for meals. They are as follows:
Breakfast $ 7.00
Lunch $ 9.00
Dinner $20.00
Daily total $36.00
These policies apply to all county employees unless there is language in a collective bargaining agreement that provides for alternative arrangements.

Both the County Executive (Mr. Brown) and The Assistant Director of Administration (Ms. Allen) are county employees and not part of a collective bargaining unit. Therefore, this policy applies to them.

Catherine Allen’s Excessive Reimbursements

Based on the attached documentation Ms. Allen did in fact charge mileage to or from her home on 78 separate occasions. There was also other mileage to locations that were not her “normal worksite.” Giving Ms. Allen the benefit of several worksites as she appears to be at Gracedale as much if not more than her office at the courthouse it becomes clear from the documentation that she over billed the county for 1,699.9 miles at $.56 per mile. This is a total of $951.94.

Ms. Allen also provided receipts to two local eateries for lunches. The total for these meals was $54.91. These meals were not farther than 50 miles from “her regular worksite or home” and are therefore not reimbursable. They also exceed the daily limit.

Ms. Allen based on the documentation and county policy needs to reimburse the county of Northampton $1,006.85.

John Brown’s Excessive Reimbursements

Based on the attached documentation [I have not attached it] Mr. Brown had several mileage reimbursement requests that were to and from home. He also had several that seem less about county business and more about the political aspects of his job. The county reimbursement policy does not cover these expenses and was not intended to do so.

Mr. Brown did not provide locations for several meetings. However, giving him the benefit of the doubt in most situations I found 944 miles at $.56 per mile that were over billed to the county. This is a total of $528.64.

All meals and lodging were for conferences that were in line with county policies.

Expectation for Reimbursement

Under the county policy:
The employee shall reimburse any overpayments within five (5) days of discovery.
If this expectation is not met I will pursue all civil and criminal action available to obtain this money in conjunction with county policy. This includes a copy of this memo going to the District Attorney or being used as an attachment in a surcharge action (whichever is most appropriate).

I will suspend any action if a meeting is set up within 5 days to discuss these documents and any objections you may have to the specific mileage calculations.

If money is not repaid within 5 business days from the date of this memo (December 9, 2014) or a meeting set up before that time I will immediately take action to recover the monies outlined above.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

To: Mr Barron
Thank You for doing your job and eliminating waste in our government. We ALL need to tighten our belts in this budget climate.

To: Mr Brown and Ms Allen
Plese stop being hypocrites. Follow the law. If you don't know the rules, learn them. We elected you to stop this waste, not continue wasting tax $$$.
Shame on you both!

Anonymous said...

jesus, 78 instances where allen charged for her drive from home?

that's just poor form

Anonymous said...

Allen should resign immediately. She is a disgrace to the County and is making Brown look like even more of a joke than he already looks

Anonymous said...

And I will be bringing home less pay next year AGAIN.......thanks MR BROWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Keep her. Bangor's gift to the county was a one way ticket..as is..no refunds..no returns!Since

Anonymous said...

Keep him too..same applies.

Anonymous said...

Brown and Allen each have a huge set of balls, though I'm not sure which set is bigger. Brown sticks it to the employees while trying to milk anything he mistakenly thinks he can suck from the teat of taxpayers. Allen puts in for mileage to cover all of her daily commute and throws in a couple of meals as a bonus.
These two jokers don't feel they are paid enough, or have they already realized their job security is only good until the next election, so they plan on taking everything they think they can in the next few years?
I don't blame them as much as myself for thinking someone like Brown might bring some honest government to the county level.

Anonymous said...

It's terrible. Of course they should reimburse. But it's pocket change compared to Barron's theft of time while teaching, Ferraro's shady deal to overpay for Gracedale ambulance services in exchange for votes, and Wayne Grube's "it's nice" reaction to outrageous cost overruns for council chambers. Hell, they named a park after notorious spendthrift Grube. Our county has been largely run for decades by obnoxious cheats with astounding hubris from both parties. The employees should pipe down. They looked the other way and kept their traps shut when it was someone who promised to give them goodies. Northampton County government is a case study in poor government from whatever party is in charge.

Anonymous said...

Allen should either resign or be fired. Where is the accountability? Where is the discipline?

Council needs to start an avenue for the voters of this county to be heard. It is time to a special referendum to vote Brown out. Too much damage has been done already.

NorCo has become the laughing stock in the State.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Brown has apparently held Allen accountable by giving her a parking spot at the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

How embarrassing. If I wanted to vote for thieves who abuse their privilege and waste taxpayer money, I'd have voted for Callahan and the Democrats. At least with them, it's expected.

Anonymous said...

5:57. I call bullshit, u probably don't even vote

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Barron and thank you Bernie. Someone needs to watch the wolves in the hen house

Anonymous said...

Wow what the hell she eating at lunch? Way different than my 5 dollar lunch.

Anonymous said...

I agree, after Mr. Barron reimburses the county for the time he was paid and was teaching classes. All politics by Barron VonFootinmouth.

Pot meet Kettle!

Anonymous said...

Barron no saint..a given..atoned for his sins..this is his job here. Abide by the law or face the music.

Anonymous said...

Motivation is a personal issue. We can guess all we want but bottom line is the controller has every right to point out violations. Stop trying to shift the focus on Stevie. This administration is inept and dishonest. Pay up JB and friend.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nobody can call me a Steve Barron cheerleader. I have been very quick to point to his attempts to politicize his office. But this kind of report is precisely what a Controller does. In a way, he is doing them a favor because he caught this early, before it became too embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Will they cough up the money without a whimper? Or will they do so grudgingly? Or will they file a counter suit and claim Barron is misusing the law or misinterpreting it? Inquiring minds..

Bernie O'Hare said...

My guess is Barron will have to sue.

Anonymous said...

8:17 is Trisha

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure neither of them will admit any wrong doing here..Deny and stonewall is the mantra or silence.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance or stupidity, moving forward it's borderline criminal...

Anonymous said...

Why should that cheat Allen get a parking space in the courthouse parking garage? Who the hell is she? Department heads do not even have that perk. Her arrogance has no boundaries. He position should be defunded in the budget and she should be forced to pack her bags and crawl back under her rock in Bangor.

Anonymous said...

Barron is running interference for this pal McClure. Neither of them care about the county only their political ambitions. You may love Barron now O'Hare because you hate Brown but the rest of us remember all his political nonsense. Hopefully the Republicans take out both McClure and Barron next year in elections. They re both shallow political animals.

Also he has yet to reimburse the county for county wages he took while teaching at NCACC. He is a phony and you are a hypocrite for being prejudiced.

Anonymous said...

Those of you saying Steve needs to pay back to county for his time and giving Brown a pass are morons. Steves attempts to politicize his job are few, far between, and necessary. You all spew you hope republicans take him out next election-how do you think he gets elected??? Politics is a necessary evil in an elected office! Steve has always done his job, even while doing political things and making mistakes. He is the first to admit his mistakes and you have no idea the amount of time he has put in since he was elected. Norco employees should hold onto your wallets. The amount of money Brown has wasted far surpasses anything Steve has done!

Anonymous said...

$27 lunches! A Public Servant? I work in government and when I travel I pay for my own lunch and it rarely exceeds $6-$7. This is great reporting, I'm glad she is being outed for taking advantage of the public trust.

Anonymous said...

All you tea party clowns should stop whimpering. You got exactly what you wanted. I for one can't wait to see how the next few years unfold. Brown is taking everyone down - even BOH wanted this type of government when he was attending tea party rallies.

Anonymous said...

Big difference between conservatism and radical conservatism. This is the radical form that JB is pursuing. With his political support now falling apart due to his radicalism..where will JB go for cover? It's called compromise John. It's what politico's are supposed to do. Give and take. Get used to it now that the yes men have walked away from your corporate insanity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Barron is running interference for this pal McClure. Neither of them care about the county only their political ambitions. You may love Barron now O'Hare because you hate Brown but the rest of us remember all his political nonsense. Hopefully the Republicans take out both McClure and Barron next year in elections. They re both shallow political animals.

Also he has yet to reimburse the county for county wages he took while teaching at NCACC. He is a phony and you are a hypocrite for being prejudiced."


This has nothing to do with loving Barron or hating Brown. I am well aware of Barron's flaws and have pointed them out often, probably more than anyone else. You probably defended him anonymously.

I have criticized Barron when he has engaged in bad government and has used his office for politics. This is not one of those occasions. Reviewing expense accounts is one of the things a Controller is supposed to do.

As for part-time teaching job, which he was forced to quit, you know about that bc of me. That was improper, but I caught Barron very early and have no evidence he was ever paid. Do you?

If I understand you correctly, we are supposed to give Brown and Allen a pass bc Barron was in violation of the Charter. That makes no sense andis an illogical argument.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But it's pocket change compared to Barron's theft of time while teaching, Ferraro's shady deal to overpay for Gracedale ambulance services in exchange for votes, and Wayne Grube's "it's nice" reaction to outrageous cost overruns for council chambers

I have no idea what is so shady about Ferraro's Gracedale deal. Come to a council meeting and lay it out. Since you are accusing her of unethical behavior, you should identify yourself and you should explain exactly why this is shady.

But as I understand your argument, we are supposed to ignore Brown and Allen's transgressions because other transgressions have not been pursued. That is an illogical argument, as I have pointed out above. The fact that some people get away with murder does not mean everyone should.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"even BOH wanted this type of government when he was attending tea party rallies."

I did attend a few meetings. My first time there was strictly as an observer and i wrote a story based on it. I went again to listen to Morganelli one evening. He's been there a few times. I disagree with John on the immigration issue. In fact, I disagree with a lot of the tea party stands, but not all. I do believe in fiscal conservatism. I do resent some of the totalitarianism I see being thrust upon us by a top-down government. And although there are kooks like Rinnie DelBacco or bitter beer faces like Tony Simao, I find most of the actual members to be decent people who probably care more about their government than most of us. I have never seen John Brown there.

I don't think Brown has an ideology. He thinks he's a corporate CEO and has spent most of his life not bothering to go to the polls. Even voting is beneath him. Now he is in office, not as a Republican or Democrat, but as a Moneycrat. he belongs to the same party as J.B. Brown, Ed Pawlowski, Pat Browne and Joe Topper. These folks are in it for themselves.

Anonymous said...

As they are both "leaders" of the county, couldn't Gracedale, or any other sites they visited be considered within their normal duties. Whether they went to their offices at the courthouse, or another site in the county, it is still within their normal duties to do so. No reimbursement needed.

That would be like a deputy sheriff that has to go to the shooting range charge mileage to arrive at the shooting range. If they are not forced to reimburse this money, I think all county employees should begin filling our reimbursement forms to perform their normal duties. Hell, you may as well stop for breakfast on the way to work, and dinner on the way home.

Anonymous said...

Public service seems to be an after thought with Brown and his friends. It is egocentric and what's in it for me ideology. Very evident now if it wasn't before. You are what you are and this is not public service..only self service.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Please let's not get too personal. I can't allow comments like that one. Would you say that to her face? if not, you should not say it here.

Anonymous said...

tell the employees again mr. brown how they need to suffer! They were just practicing "consumerism"- looking for the best free breakfast, lunch or dinner. Real winners this bunch.

Anonymous said...

When Stoffa was in office neither he or his administrators had a private space in the parking garage. This is a public garage, not an employees garage. It was paid for by public funds. Visitors to the courthouse, who pay the taxes, have the same right as employees to park as close to the courthouse as possible. Hogging spaces for egotistical Brown minions is contrary to the business mantra that the customer always comes first. Stoffa had respect for the public. Brown has distain. So why not cheat on expense accounts and take perks like private parking spaces in a public garage?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Aa Exec, Brown can decide who gets special parking spots. He should know that people notice these things.

John Stoffa, until he was forced to undergo a hip replacement, refused to take a private parking spot. I often saw him trudging up a hill, in pain, trying to set a good example. The same is true of former Sheriff Jeff Hawbecker, who arguably had a right to insist on his own spot.

Brown is setting his own example.

Anonymous said...

The parking issue at the courthouse is a joke. Sheriffs park their personal cars in the p permit spots while other employees have to park a mile away. Its an embarrassment to watch these so called keepers of the law violate such a simple policy. At this rate by the end of the year the entire parking deck will be permit parking only.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine what these 2 got away with in Bangor. Maybe they need to be audited there too! And will someone follow through with WHEN these 2 jerks reimburse the county?

Anonymous said...

Gee,How is it that Brown and Allen use a vehicle from Gracedale on occasion? Like Tuesday night 12/3 at 7pm.Is this allowed? odd

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is interesting.

Anonymous said...

More abuse of County property.