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Cambria County controller delays employee expense reimbursements

CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. -- The Cambria County controller has made a decision that some are calling a drastic measure. Ed Cernic said in order to pay the bills this month the county will not be able to reimburse employees for any expenses they make.

It's not the first time this year Cernic has opened up about the county's finances, but he said the cash flow is getting worse. He said Thursday he's already borrowed about $2.5 million from other county agencies and this next step made the most sense.

"We're making steps right now to assure ourselves that we can make these payments at the end of the year," said Cernic.

There's about $12 million in loans, interest and monthly health-care payments due by the end of the year that Cernic said he's not sure the county will be able to pay.

"Those numbers add up and that's not even making payroll," said Cernic. "That's not paying one electric bill."

In order to help the county with some cash flow, Cernic has decided to hold back from reimbursing county employees from any expenses they incur. But the majority of the commissioners don't agree.

"You're talking about a $7,000 a month bill," said Cambria County President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder. "It's not that much, but it does effect the individual."

Instead, commissioners Lengenfelder and Mark Wissinger said Cernic should have held back from paying the monthly health care bill that costs the county roughly a million dollars. It's something they said would have not had any impact on employees.

"It would not effect insurance employees get, or the coverage or care they deserve," said Lengenfelder.

"There's no question that the health-care fund is important to us," said Wissinger. "What we're looking at is the capability to pay some of these bills where folks may be waiting 30, 45, 60 days to pay them."

Cernic said this is just a delay. He said employees will be reimbursed hopefully within the next couple of weeks. But he said he does expect the issue to continue to occur every month.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times