At their meeting last Wednesday, the Warren County Commissioners agreed to sign a contract with Loch, Elsenbaumer Newton and Company of Allentown.
The company will provide forensic accounting for the county's current dispute with institutions over tax-exempt status. "Forensic" means "suitable for use in a court of law", and it is to that standard and potential outcome that forensic accountants generally have to work, according to Wikipedia.
Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said the company's fees were $275 an hour for court time, and $270 an hour for travel time.
Commissioner John Bortz asked, "Is there a ceiling amount?"
Commissioner John Eggleston replied, "I doubt it. We've had similar agreements with other companies."
Bortz said, "We could be looking at a tremendous amount of money."
Eggleston said, "As elected officials, if it gets to the point we can't afford it any more," they can put an end to it. "There are murky areas we need clarified."
He continued, "They have professional skills and a great track record you don't find on every street corner. Would I rather we pay half (of that amount)? Absolutely."
He said that most of the work would be done at their office in Allentown, and they probably would only need to come to Warren for court.
On Thursday, Karen Beardsley, chief assessor for the county, explained that the accountants will look at information on the non-profits to see if there is merit to proceed with the action, and check to see if the institutions meet the requirements for tax exemptions. "We've been pretty frugal. We've used them before, when Warren General Hospital wanted their Youngsville Medical Office to be tax exempt. They (WGH) withdrew their petition. The accountants have already given us free advice (on our current issue) without this contract, and they are very professional."