PA Auditor General looks to change state law

Auditor General wants to audit municipal authorities

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - Pennsylvania's Auditor General is looking to expand his responsibilities.

Eugene DePasquale is asking lawmakers in Harrisburg to change state law so his office can audit municipal authorities.

In Scranton, there were a lot of questions last year over the $195 million sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority to Pennsylvania American Water.

Many taxpayers demanded an independent audit but in a stunning vote the Scranton Sewer Authority said "no."

In 2017, both Scranton city council and Dunmore borough council voted to ask Pennsylvania's Auditor General to look into the sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority.

Under current law, Eugene DePasquale's office cannot do that, unless the office is invited in by the specific agency.

The Scranton Sewer Authority refused and now DePasquale wants to change state law.

"There are billions of dollars in state spending by the General Assembly and municipal authorities that are currently exempt from my independent audit oversight," PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.

The PA Auditor General is now asking lawmakers to support and pass Senate Bill 597.

It would give his office the right to audit municipal authorities including water, parking and sewer agencies.

"We have literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of municipal authorities whose decisions impact taxpayers," Senator John Blake said.

State Senator John Blake of Lackawanna County agrees with the idea.

He is now a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Senator Blake says audits don't just uncover wrongdoing but can also point out good conduct too.

"I'd rather have the authority and rather be re-affirmed and let the taxpayers be reassured that what has been going on has been going on in their interest," Senator Blake said.

While visiting downtown Scranton Friday, Eyewitness News asked Governor Tom Wolf about the proposed legislation.

"I have to admit I haven't studied the bill but in general the idea of more accountability and more transparency strikes me as a really good idea," Governor Tom Wolf said.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says if Senate Bill 597 is approved one of the first authorities he would send his team is the Scranton Sewer Authority.

Senator John Blake says the legislation was approved by the local government committee in the Pennsylvania Senate.

It will now go to the appropriations committee before heading to the full PA Senate for a vote.

 


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