County controller could lose weights and measures
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Responsibility for making sure store scales remain accurate likely is headed back to the office of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
County council's Government Reform Committee voted 3-0 today to shift oversight of three weights-and-measures employees from the county Controller Chelsa Wagner to Department of Administrative Services, which reports to Mr. Fitzgerald. Both Ms. Wagner and Mr. Fitzgerald are Democrats who took office in January.
The ordinance proposing the transfer will be on council's June 19 agenda.
The proposed change reverses an action council took in 2008 at the request of then-Executive Dan Onorato and former-Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty.
Ms. Wagner said the dispute over weights and measures was not a symptom of a rift between her and Mr. Fitzgerald. "I can say that we presented a mountain of evidence for keeping this function," she said. "If the administration is willing to disregard it, that concerns me, and I must be more vigilant on what else might be disregarded."
Ms. Wagner called the proposal to move weights and measures employees "a solution in search of a problem." New technology and computer software have make the task of checking measuring devices -- including scales, gas pumps and UPC scanners -- more efficient, she said. In addition, county inspectors had been able to take on new tasks, assuring, for example, that jeweler's scales and timers at car washes and laundromats were accurate.
Administrative Services Director Tim Johnson told committee members his department could easily take back oversight of weights and measures.
After scales and gas pumps are tested, inspectors place a sticker with the controller's name and office phone number on each device. If council members and the executive were worried about too much publicity for her office, Ms Wagner said she would be happy to consider an alternate designs for the labels.
First Published June 6, 2012 7:07 pm