Benninghoff Bill to Save Taxpayers’ Money, Empower County Governments, Headed to Governor
HARRISBURG – County governments will have more power to decide whether or not to combine certain offices in an attempt to save taxpayer money under a bill introduced by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) that was approved today by the House and is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

“The flexibility this bill will provide will empower county governments to do what is in the best interests of taxpayers,” Benninghoff said. “By providing county governments with the authority to use their discretion, we can get past the one-size-fits-all mentality that too often pervades our laws. This change also brings these rules – which were enacted years ago – in line with today’s evolving technologies. It recognizes the advances in technology and modernization of services that have taken place since the rules were last changed.”

Benninghoff’s bill will allow certain counties in Pennsylvania to adopt a resolution allowing one person to serve as the recorder of deeds, register of wills and clerk of orphans’ court, rather than having three different individuals fill those positions.

“This provision will allow county governments to potentially streamline operations and save taxpayers money,” Benninghoff said.

The bill also will allow certain counties to adopt a resolution to have one person serve as prothonotary and clerk of courts, rather than separating the offices. 
House Bill 163 also will allow certain county commissioners, in consultation with the president judge of the county Court of Common Pleas, to maintain the current configuration of the county’s row offices until they collaboratively agree to separate them. If a county does decide to separate the combined offices, it would not take effect until the offices are next up for election.

The provision affecting the recorder of deeds, register of wills and clerk of orphans’ courts will apply to counties advancing from fifth-class status to fourth-class status under Pennsylvania law. Under current law, in third- through fifth-class counties, one person holds the offices of register of wills and clerk of the orphans’ court and another person holds the office of recorder of deeds.

The provision affecting the positions of prothonotary and clerk of courts will apply to counties advancing from fifth- to fourth-class status. Under current law, when a county progresses from fifth- to fourth-class status, the two offices must be separated.

“We are changing this so that state law is less of a mandate and more of an empowering tool,” Benninghoff said. “The goal is to provide counties with the options they need to save taxpayer money.”

Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Dan Massing
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