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Pa. House members demand resignation after audit reveals agency used tax dollars to party

Written by Rick Lee, York Daily Record | Nov 10, 2018 9:07 AM
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Andrew Dehoff is director of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (Photo: Submitted to York Daily Record)

Andrew Dehoff said he has no plans to step down

In the fallout over an audit showing that the Susquehanna River Basin Commission spent taxpayer money on alcohol, fine dining and employee perks, two York County state representatives have called for the resignation of the commission director.

Andrew D. Dehoff was appointed director of the quasi-governmental commission that oversees the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin, which extends from Maryland north into New York.

More: 'Unbelievable': Pa. commission bought alcohol, steaks with taxpayer funds, auditor says

Dehoff said Friday that he has no intention of resigning.

"I'm dedicated to our mission of managing the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin, and I plan to continue to help advance that mission," Dehoff said in an emailed statement.

Following complaints about the commission's demands on small municipalities, the Pennsylvania legislature gave state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale the authority to audit the commission's finances.

That audit, released Thursday at a media conference called by DePasquale, revealed tens of thousands of dollars of funds misspent by the commission.

That included:

  • $14,048 for staff perks;
  • $16,259 for food and gratuities;
  • Monetary and gift card rewards of $8,031;
  • A staff holiday party expense of $3,074;
  • A staff picnic costing $1,585;
  • A $100 gift card purchase for a wedding gift;
  • Bereavement donations totaling $800;
  • And, flower purchases totaling $458 for Administrative Professionals Day.

On Friday, Rep. (and Senator-elect) Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, and Rep. Dan Moul, R-Hanover, said that Dehoff should resign from the commission.

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Two-term state representative Kristin Phillips-Hill of York Township won the state Senate seat vacated by Scott Wagner. (Photo: Submitted to York Daily Record)

"Our insistence on having the SRBC independently audited paid off Thursday in a manner that should make every Pennsylvania taxpayer as angry as it makes us," said Phillips-Hill.

"Auditor General DePasquale's findings detail a culture that promotes the gross misuse of taxpayer dollars ... a mindset that starts at the top, which is why we are asking Executive Director Dehoff to resign."

Following Thursday's audit announcement by DePasquale, the SRBC did not contest the allegations of misusing funds.

According to the SRBC website, Dehoff's first responsibility when he was appointed was "to restructure the management team to increase efficiency and reduce operational expenses."

Moul said, "Without direct oversight, the SRBC has been allowed to grow into 'a kingdom unto itself' and has taken full advantage of that opportunity."

The SRBC's "status as unelected officials prevents taxpayers from having a seat at the table in their decision making, even though the commission has access to taxpayer dollars. That needs to change," Moul said.

Both Phillips-Hill and Moul said they will push for more transparency in the operation of the commission.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission was established in 1970 by the federal government and the three member states as a comprehensive planning commission with oversight of water resources in the Susquehanna River Basin area.

According to the commission's bylaws, Dehoff, as director of finance and administration, is to  maintain a "system of accounting that properly matches revenues against expenditures for each fiscal year."

During his audit announcement, DePasquale noted  that the commission has a $10.5 million reserve fund.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year, Pennsylvania's forwarded the SRBC $473,000. This commission also receives funding from New York, Maryland and the federal government. The federal government, however, has made no financial contributions to the commission since 2009, according to the audit.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

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