Cahilly’s Termination as Solicitor will Save County $30k Annually

Soon-to-retire Solicitor currently costs county $75k/yr.

Left to Right: Commissioners Morley, Heimel, and Kefover

COUDERSPORT – Several local media reports, in sensational form, have decried the Potter County Commissioner’s recent termination of County Solicitor D. Bruce Cahilly.

The Potter Leader Enterprise began their article with, “‘I was shocked. Shocked,’ Potter County Solicitor D. Bruce Cahilly told the Leader-Enterprise Monday when asked if he knew his appointment as County Solicitor had come to and end.” (their typo, not ours)

Solomons Words repeated the headline and offered a 3-paragraph snippet of the Potter Leader’s article.

However, The Potter Leader and Solomons’ snippets both fail to inform the reader that Cahilly’s termination was well motivated; Cahilly is soon set to retire and his replacement will save taxpayers approximately $30,000 per year.

Currently, the County is on the hook to the tune of $75,000 for Cahilly’s services. By terminating the County’s contract with Cahilly, who has served for 35 of the past 40 years as County Solicitor, the Commissioners have reduced county expenses by $30,000 per year.

A previous board offered to make Solicitor Cahilly a “county employee,” making him eligible for the benefit package that includes health insurance, dental, vision, prescription service and retirement benefits. The arrangement also called for an annual office stipend of roughly $3,000 for administrative/secretarial services. So the line item in the 2012 budget, for example, was $75,000. A new contract with attorney Tom Shaffer has a total bottom line of $45,000 – a considerable cost-savings to the County.

Commissioner Heimel noted that Cahilly’s termination was in no way influenced by his performance, but rather was motivated by cost-savings.

Heimel had this to say in response to our inquiry,

Based on my research, I have always believed that we could save the taxpayers money in the County Solicitor budget line item. Dating back to 2009, I’ve periodically benchmarked this with other Pennsylvania counties to verify that and I’ve consistently found that we spend more on the solicitor’s services than many other counties.

So, in consideration of our tight budget, the availability of an experienced attorney at less cost, and Bruce’s intention to transition toward retirement, it made sense to make the change as we embark on a new year.

I’ve had minimal contact with Solicitor Cahilly, since Chairman Morley has been our point person for the basic and usually mundane legal issues. We’ve found as a three-member board that dividing out the responsibilities so that each commissioner is the ‘point person’ for specific areas is the best way to stay on top of our volume of work, and that particular role has fallen to Doug. Any time a legal issue has required consensus of the Board of Commissioners, all three of us have been involved in the discussions.”

In a statement provided by Commissioner Susan Kefover, she commends Cahilly’s service and goes on to say the move to replace him was also motivated by changing dynamics within the county government, specifically referring to the fact that Cahilly’s services are not required as often as they once were.

Kefover, who was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting, said this in a statement,

D. Bruce Cahilly needs no introduction to Potter County residents. His tenure as a county solicitor has seen diverse Boards of Commissioners and many challenging issues. He knows county government and has been an outstanding source of wisdom and a champion to protect the county’s interests. I know his strengths first hand as he was my solicitor in a previous term with Tom Bowman and Carl Roberts. His skills helped win the hard battle for our Coordinated Human Service Delivery System which is a model still in the State of PA.

Our present Board puts different demands on a solicitor. Our state associations are tapped for information quite frequently so we do less consulting with our county attorney. County matters often deal with contracts, real estate issues, and straight-forward legal questions. Our union negotiations were done without the use of a solicitor. Solicitor Cahilly’s strengths and negotiating expertise weren’t called upon by this board as much as in times past because the need has not been present. Bruce had revealed his plans to retire so the next step seemed logical to secure a replacement who would fit the changing and somewhat different role that has emerged. I consider Bruce my friend, a strong and powerful attorney, and a fountain of valuable knowledge.”

Commissioner Heimel says he has figures regarding the salaries of solicitors across the state, with many falling below Potter County’s previous solicitor budget. That information is available at the commissioner’s office at this time and will be posted here when it becomes available to us.


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One Comment

  1. intheknow says:

    Leave it up to the Potter Liar and Solomons Lies.

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