Bunny Welsh Responds To Hit Piece — Chester County Controller Margaret Reif is continuing her partisan agenda against well-respected and nationally known Sheriff Bunny Welsh despite Bunny not seeking re-election and her term ending in January.
Ms. Reif, a Democrat, informed the Daily Local News that the Sheriff’s Department has gone over budget in overtime for three years, a common occurence in law enforcement. The Local treated the non-story as a front page scandal in the Sept. 15 Sunday edition.
A whole lot of things were left out of the story namely that the county gets a lot of that money back since the K-9 unit is used by other agencies, and that the Eric Fein jury selection occurred in Chesco.
Bunny’s attorney Dawson Muth does a good job of addressing things and we are happy to run his response.
Once again, Daily Local News reporter Michael Rellahan has penned a story and generated a front page headline filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the Sunday newspaper. In his zeal to get another sensationalized headline, “Sheriff Busted OT Budget”, he merely regurgitated the unverified information provided to him by Controller Margaret Reif in her obsessive, personal attacks against the Sheriff of Chester County.
Not surprisingly, it is the same modus operandi that the Controller and reporter used last year in the attack on the Sheriffs Office nationally acclaimed, award winning K-9 unit.
As before, she tosses out raw numbers with no explanation and hopes her manipulated script can erode public trust for one of the most respected Sheriffs in the nation.
The approved budget for the Sheriffs Office, as for any law enforcement agency, is difficult to guarantee. There are many late courts such as the treatment courts, juries who deliberate into the night, long transports, extraditions and other duties that cannot always be anticipated accurately. In its approved annual $6 million dollar budget, it would not be unusual to have $80,000-$100,000 additional overtime for the year. However, that does not mean County taxpayers absorb a loss.
Much of the unanticipated overtime costs are offset substantially by revenue the Sheriffs Office generates that goes directly in the County’s general fund which the Controller conveniently fails to reference in her report.
Some community events where deputies are assigned are also reimbursed directly to the County. In fact, during the three years referenced by the Controller, more than $125,000 in overtime was billed to outside agencies and organizations for the services of the deputies.
In other circumstances, overtime relating to a criminal matter, such as the search for or apprehension of a defendant by the K-9 team may be charged to the defendant and collected as costs and restitution by the probation department. Again, the Controller fails to subtract the revenue collected because it does not bolster her bogus allegations and continues her personal pursuit of the Sheriff.
Deputy Sheriffs are required to post the annual tax sale notices. These postings require multiple trips and attempts at service for hundreds of properties, which means working extended hours. This service results in an approximate cost of $30,000 in overtime annually. Due to these postings however, the County Tax office receives millions of dollars of revenue. Another fact conveniently and blatantly ignored by the Controller.
Special security details like the high profile Eric Fein jury selection require many hours of unanticipated overtime (Frein was arrested and convicted of murdering a Pennsylvania State Trooper in Pike County). The jury selection occurred here in Chester County and required long hours in transport and high security details. Pike County reimbursed Chester County thousands of dollars for that detail reducing the overtime costs to the taxpayers of Chester County. That fact also conveniently and blatantly ignored by the Controller.
Now for the third time, the Controller is spending hundreds of office hours and countless hours with her attorney-at what cost to the taxpayers – in her ongoing attempt to tarnish the name of a Sheriff who leads one of the finest offices not only in this Commonwealth but also in the nation.
Shame on the Daily Local for colluding with the Controller in her personal crusade and assisting her in costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars while she continues her partisan attacks on the Sheriff of Chester County.