Attorney Thomas M. Marsilio threatened to resign as a Luzerne County conflict counsel if he didn’t receive at least one of the two months in payments he’s owed by Monday.
The administration replied to his letter, which was forwarded to the media Friday, by issuing his $3,100 monthly payments for February and March and accepting his resignation.
Marsilio questions if his conditional notice to leave was accepted because he publicly exposed the county’s failure to pay bills. He has worked as a conflict counsel since 2009 representing defendants when Public Defender’s Office attorneys have a conflict.
“Don’t complain, or you’ll get the ax,” Marsilio said. “It’s their loss.”
County Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri said the action has nothing to do with Marsilio going public about not getting paid.
“He submitted a resignation. He’s been paid in full, and we accepted his resignation. We wish him the best of luck,” Pedri said.
Delayed tax bills
The county got behind on some payments because council’s reopening of the county budget delayed the mailing of 2014 county tax bills. The county does not have a reserve for cash-flow emergencies.
Tax payments are now coming in, but complaints about nonpayment continue to surface.
At least one district judge office was unable to make long-distance phone calls Wednesday due to nonpayment of the bill, with outgoing calls forwarded to a collection agency, officials said. That $360 bill for March was paid the same day it was brought to the county’s attention by the media.
County Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz said the county’s cash flow crisis has ended, but a shortage of staffers to process payments is now the issue.
The accounts payable department, which reviews and processes payment requests, was reduced from four to two employees this year due to budget-related layoffs, he said.
“Now we have money and a stack of bills with only two people processing them. I’m trying to shuffle people around to help get accounts payable caught up,” Swetz said.
County officials had warned some services would suffer as a result of layoffs, he said.
“Two people cannot produce as much as four,” he said.
Swetz said he has been concentrating on processing the older and highest-priority payments first.
The county received around $8 million in property tax revenue last month, largely because elected tax collectors turned over money sooner than required to assist with the county’s cash flow, he said.
The county’s $124.8 million general fund operating budget counts on $98 million from property tax payments this year, Swetz said.
Marsilio said he was justified in demanding payment because he works as a county contractor and has employee and overhead expenses. His letter said the county, in the event it does not pay, should send someone to his law office to collect his records from multiple murder cases and serious felonies.
His letter also extended “warmest regards” to county council from “Mr. No Paycheck.”
“Isn’t it ironic that County Council named our entity as the Office of Indigent Counsel? Perhaps they knew something and weren’t telling us?” he wrote.