Williamsport, PA – A county administrator’s refusal to reimburse a probation officer for a $60 pair of pants has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Luke Ellison, an adult probation officer in Lycoming County, ripped his pants Dec. 28 chasing down a woman who had violated probation, according to Pennlive.com.
Lycoming County Controller Krista Rogers denied Officer Ellison’s request to reimburse him for the $60 cost of replacing his pants. The county does not provide work pants for its probation officers.
On Jan. 17, Commonwealth Court Judge Nancy L. Butts found that although the county does not provide work pants, Officer Ellison was entitled to reimbursement because they were damaged in the course of his duties, according to Pennlive.com.
Judge Butts ordered the county to pay Officer Ellison the $60 out of the offender supervision fund. And that’s where the legal battle began.
Officer Ellison was reimbursed for his pants, but Rogers appealed the judge’s ruling because the offender supervision fund is limited to employees’ salaries and benefits and operational expenses of the office.
Rogers also withheld taxes on the $60 that was reimbursed to Officer Ellison, claiming it was a fringe benefit.
"I'm just trying to do the right thing to protect the county," Rogers told Pennlive.com.
County Commissioner Jack McKernan called Rogers' stance "ridiculous. Paying it is the right thing to do. You have to use good judgment."
Judge Butts issued two more orders involving the pants’ reimbursement, and Rogers has appealed both orders, which increases the legal costs involved with the case.
As of Sept. 26, Rogers had paid a solicitor $4,285 to appeal the judge’s rulings.
"I can't believe it," McKernan said. "It doesn't seem like the solution to an easy fix."
"It's unfortunate an officer destroys his clothes in the line of duty and the county spends $4,300 on a $60 pair of pants," Chief Adult Probation Officer Ed McCoy told Pennlive.com.
Do you think that there's any justification for the county to try to avoid paying for the pants? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.