Clerk of Records

The Clerk of Records offices include the following departments: the Prothonotary, Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Register of Wills, Clerk of Courts, Recorder of Deeds and Marriage Bureau.

These court-related offices administer, process and manage all criminal cases, including adult and juvenile caseloads, all civil and family court cases including lawsuits, landlord-tenant cases, appeals, judgments, government liens, domestic abuse, custody, divorce, mental health, mortgage foreclosures, many other types of civil cases, mortgages, deeds, satisfactions and other land records, estates, guardianships, adoptions, all other matters handled by the Orphans’ Court division, and marriage licenses.

The offices, which are overseen by Clerk of Records Kenneth Gamble, work closely with the courts, other government agencies and law enforcement to manage the courts’ caseload and collect and account for millions of dollars in funds of the federal, state and local governments. The procedures of the Clerk of Records offices are mandated by many federal, state and local statutes and regulations.

Did you know? The offices under the Clerk of Records have a staff of 43 people.

Judiciary

Erie County’s judiciary consists of nine trial court judges and 13 magisterial district judges. All are state employees, though they serve Erie County.

Their judges, along with those of the Erie County Court Administration, are overseen by Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla.

The trial court judges – officially, judges of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas – are elected by the voters of Erie County. They are elected to a 10-year term, after which they can request that voters retain them. They hear both criminal and civil cases. They also hear matters involving children and families.

Before those accused of crimes face a trial court judge, however, they usually face one of the magisterial district judges at an arraignment or preliminary hearing. Magisterial district judges also hear traffic cases. Each Erie County magisterial district judges represents a different district in Erie County. They are elected to a six-year term, after which they can run for re-election in a competitive race.

Did you know? The mandatory retirement age for judges in Pennsylvania is 75, after voters statewide in November 2016 elected to raise it from the previous retirement age of 70.

Juvenile Probation and Adult Probation

The county’s Juvenile Probation and Adult Probation departments both operate under the oversight of the Court Administration.

The Juvenile Probation division, supervised by Bob Blakely, aims to provide a “balanced approach” to juvenile justice, working to maximize effective supervision of juvenile offenders and reduce delinquent conduct. The department, with 48 county employees, provides intake, detention, court and placement services, as well as electronic monitoring, counseling, drug intervention, and other programs.

The Adult Probation division, under the supervision of Paul Markiewicz, aims to keep the community safe by supervising and operating programs for adult offenders, who have been sentenced by the Erie County Court of Common Pleas to a period of probation and/or parole. The department, which has 73 county employees, also strives to reduce recidivism rates among adults, and works to collect court-imposed fines, fees, costs and restitution that have been imposed on adult offenders.

Did you know? The Adult Probation division has teamed up with other county departments to operate Treatment Courts that aim to address underlying causes of some offenders’ legal issues.

Domestic Relations

Erie County’s Domestic Relations department serves as the county’s child/spousal support agency.

Domestic Relations, which is supervised by Director Mark Causgrove under the oversight of Court Administration, also works with the other agencies involving cases where children are receiving welfare or where children are no longer in their parents’ custody.

The department, which has 74 employees, also assists dependents who require financial assistance and enforces financial and medical support orders for all qualifying parties.

Did you know? The department achieved the benchmark performance in four federally mandated performance measures for seven straight years.

Court Administration

Erie County’s court system represents the judicial branch of county government, operating independently of the legislative branch (County Council) and the executive branch (the County Executive).

Court Administrator Peter Freed manages the day-to-day operations of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, which is overseen by President Judge John J. Trucilla.

The Court Administrator oversees all departments in the court system, including court reporters, jury coordinators, the courts’ computer bureau, and the law library. Currently, 69 county employees work in Court Administration.

The county’s offices of Domestic Relations, as well as Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation, also operate under the oversight of the Court Administrator.

Did you know? County judges, magisterial district judges, the court administrator and deputy court administrators are all state employees, not county employees.

Human Resources

The Human Resources staff handles a variety of services for County of Erie employees.

The Human Resources staff coordinate benefits for all employees and also negotiate and administer labor agreements with the six labor unions that represent County of Erie employees.

Director Sabrina Fischer and her team, which operate under the county executive, also coordinate training opportunities for staff and managers, as well as offer a variety of wellness initiatives for county employees.

The Human Resources staff handles recruitment and hiring, including by posting county job openings every Friday.

Did you know? The Human Resources staff serves about 1,200 county employees.

Information Technology

The Information Technology department at the County of Erie offers technical support and guidance to county employees while also maintaining the county’s digital services that are used by residents.

The department, which operates under the county executive, maintains the county website, as well as hardware and software for county employees.

Director Erick Friedman and his team are responsible for ensuring the security of county equipment and implementing new technologies. IT staff members work out of facilities across the county.

The department also has been on the front lines of countywide initiatives, including the Next Generation Public Safety Radio System and improvements to circulation software at the Erie County Public Library. The department has been working on server virtualization to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Did you know? The IT department saved more than $650,000 in 2016 alone through implementing server virtualization, remote access, flex time and more.

Finance department

The Finance department consists of the Assessment office, the Tax Claim and Revenue office, and General Accounting.

Jim Sparber is the director of the department, which operates under the county executive.

The Assessment office, which is supervised by Scott Maas, works to accurately and uniformly assess all real estate in Erie County. The office implements tax programs and provides assessment information to the county’s 38 municipalities and 13 school districts.

The Tax Claim and Revenue office, which is supervised by Steven Letzelter, collects delinquent taxes for the county as well as for school districts, the city of Erie and various townships and boroughs. The office also disburses funds to taxing authorities and conducts tax sales. In addition, the office issues various licenses, including dog licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, and licenses for bingo and small games of chance.

The General Accounting office, which is supervised by Sue Ellen Pasquale, records the financial operations of the county. This includes preparing the annual county budget, managing the payment of invoices, processing payroll, and collecting and disbursing gaming revenue.

Did you know? The county’s financial budget and spending data is available for the public to view online in a new, user-friendly platform.

Procurement

The Procurement office makes sure that the county purchases quality goods and services in a timely and economical manner.

The office, which operates as part of the county executive’s team under the oversight of the director of administration, assists all county departments, reviews requisitions, obtains quotes or bids as needed, and issues purchase orders.

Under the leadership of Director Chuck Crane, the office has worked to ensure a smart and transparent use of taxpayer dollars by working to close some of the county’s open, or blanket, purchase orders, closing 35 percent so far.

The office cuts about 1,750 purchase orders per year, and reviews about 50 bids and RFPs (requests for proposal) per year.

Did you know? The Procurement office saved about $115,000 in 2016 by negotiating better prices with vendors.

Facilities and Operations

The Facilities and Operations staff ensures that the courthouse and other county facilities run efficiently and professionally.

The Facilities and Operations team is part of the county executive’s administration and is overseen by the director of administration.

Manager Luigi Pasquale and his team maintain county buildings, make necessary repairs and respond to emergencies as needed.

The staff also coordinates identification badges for county employees, oversees telecommunications and maintains signage at county facilities.

The staff also provides internal and external mail service to county departments.

Did you know? The staff oversees 30 county facilities.

Department of Human Services – Drug & Alcohol Abuse

The Office of Drug & Alcohol Abuse is one of three divisions of the Department of Human Resources.

The office, which is led by Director Dave Sanner under the oversight of Human Services Director John DiMattio, works to make prevention, intervention and treatment services available to the public. The office assures that prevention programs are in place and advocates for client services by coordinating with other service agencies and systems.

The office, working in collaboration with other county departments, has taken a leadership role in fighting the opioid epidemic, including efforts to educate the public, prevent opioid abuse and overdoses, and help addicts receive treatment.

In 2016, the office performed more than 3,000 substance abuse assessments.

Did you know? The most common drugs of choice among the office’s clients in 2016 were alcohol (29 percent), marijuana (26 percent) and heroin (17.5 percent).

Department of Human Services – Office of Children and Youth

The Erie County Office of Children and Youth (OCY) is one of three divisions of the Department of Human Resources.

The office, which is led by OCY Director Lana Rees under the oversight of Human Services Director John DiMattio, aims to protect children and strengthen families. OCY works on assessing and assuring the safety, permanency and well-being of all young people in Erie County.

OCY also oversees the Edmund L. Thomas Adolescent Center and Shelter, which provides a safe environment for children; as well as Child Care Information Services, which provides child-care referrals and, in some cases, child-care subsidies.

Did you know? Last year, OCY investigated more than 5,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect and provided case management services to more than 2,000 children.

Human Services – Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities

The Erie County Department of Human Services consists of three offices: Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities; Children and Youth; and Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

The department operates as part of the county executive’s administration and is overseen by the director of administration.

John DiMattio, the director of Human Services, also oversees the Office of Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities (known as MH/ID).

The MH/ID office acts as the administrator of programs, working to assure that all residents of Erie County receive the mental health and intellectual disabilities services they need. The office also administers programs to offer assistance to the homeless.

As part of the role of administrator, the MH/ID office ensures that programs exist to provide support, treatment, housing, and more for those with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.

Did you know? Last year in Erie County, 21,282 clients received a mental health service, and more than 1,900 individuals with an intellectual disability received services.

Department of Corrections

The Erie County Department of Corrections houses criminal offenders at the Erie County Prison.

The department, led by Warden Kevin Sutter, aims to protect society by securely housing criminals while also providing a safe environment for prison staff and inmates. The department operates as part of the county executive’s administration and is overseen by the department of administration.

The department also provides a variety of programming opportunities at the prison in an effort to help inmates prepare to re-enter society. This includes work release, G.E.D. and alternative educational programs, anger management groups, drug/alcohol treatment, life skills and religious education.

The department also helps to clean up neighborhoods and public parks through the Community Works Program.

Did you know? The Erie County Prison achieved full compliance, a notable achievement, from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections last year.

Public Defender

The Erie County Public Defender’s Office provides legal advice and representation for residents who are financially unable to retain legal counsel and who are in jeopardy of losing their freedom.

Chief Public Defender Patricia Kennedy and her staff, which operate under the county executive and are overseen by the director of administration, aim to ensure equality in the criminal justice system by enforcing the rights of those accused of crimes to receive legal representation. They also provide legal representation to those facing involuntary commitment under the Mental Health Act.

In addition, the Public Defender’s Office collaborates with other county departments and community providers to support Treatment Courts, including Veterans Court, which helps people charged with crimes to be diverted from incarceration.

Did you know? The Public Defender’s Office helps about 5,000 people each year.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Erie County Department of Veterans Affairs aims to assist military veterans and their families in securing the rights entitled to them by virtue of their service.

The department, which operates as part of the county executive’s team under the director of administration, helps veterans and their spouses file paperwork, including for burial and headstone allowances, property tax exemptions, pensions, and other claims.

Director Thad Plasczynski and his staff collaborate with other organizations to help veterans secure housing, find jobs, and navigate higher education. They also work with other county departments on the Veterans Treatment Court, which works to address mental health or addiction problems that can be at the root of veterans’ legal troubles.

Did you know? The Department of Veterans Affairs is the newest county department. It was created in 2015 from an office that formerly operated under the Human Resources department.

Department of Planning

The Erie County Department of Planning serves as a resource for Erie County’s 38 municipalities.

The department, which operates as part of the county executive’s administration under the oversight of the director of administration, in 2016 conducted a Municipalities Matter study, which allowed the county’s cities, boroughs and townships the opportunity to identify their needs.

The Department of Planning used that survey to prioritize its collaborations with municipalities. Currently, the department is working with the City of Erie, Millcreek Township and Summit Township on their comprehensive plans, and has worked with Venango Township on developing a model zoning ordinance as well as LeBoeuf Township, Union Township and Union City Borough on updating their zoning codes.

Director Kathy Wyrosdick and her team also coordinate and administer the programs for agricultural preservation and coastal resources. They coordinate the Erie MPO Metropolitan Transportation Planning process and are working to create Erie County’s Cultural Heritage Plan. The Erie County Recycling Program also operates out of the Department of Planning.

Did you know? The Department of Planning oversees the Erie County Greenways program, which has awarded more than $844,828, which has leveraged an additional investment of more than $1.8 million for public resources throughout the county.

Erie County Public Library

The Erie County Public Library aims to improve the quality of life of all Erie County citizens by offering resources and programs that promote education, cultural enrichment and recreation.

The Public Library, which operates as part of the county executive’s administration under the oversight of the director of administration, has five facilities as well as the Bookmobile. About 1.3 million items were borrowed from the library in 2016.

The Public Library also acts as the district center for 15 independent libraries in Erie and Crawford counties.

As Library Director Mary Rennie says, the Erie County Public Library is as much about connections as it is collections.

To that end, the library has expanded programing by 45 percent in 2016. Programming for children and teens is particularly popular, with attendance at teen programs up an astonishing 482 percent in 2016.

The library also provides computer and internet access for residents. In 2016, more than 80,000 public computer sessions were logged at Erie County Public Library locations, and hundreds more residents are able to use the internet at home by borrowing mobile Wi-Fi hot spots.

In addition, the Erie County Public Library’s Blasco Library is undergoing renovation work that will result in the creation of the IdeaLab, a makerspace dedicated to boosting entrepreneurs in the region.

Did you know? Today, April 11, is International Library Workers Day.

Department of Public Safety – Emergency Management

The Department of Public Safety also operates an Emergency Management division, which oversees preparedness, response, and recovery operations in Erie County.

The Emergency Management division prepares for all manner of emergencies, including weather-related incidents; hazardous materials spills; or terrorism or security situations.

Part of the Emergency Management operations includes educating the public about how they should prepare for emergencies in their own homes. For example, citizens should prepare disaster or emergency supply kits for their homes and vehicles, and they should make plans for family members with disabilities in the event of an emergency.

Public Safety’s Emergency Management division also oversees operations involving specialized Erie County volunteer groups, including the Hazardous Materials Response Team, the Community Emergency Response Team and the Animal Response Team.

Did you know? Hundreds of volunteers are part of the specialized volunteer groups that work with Public Safety’s Emergency Management division.

Department of Public Safety – 911 Center

The Erie County Department of Public Safety provides both 911 services and emergency management services for the county.

Director John Grappy and his team aim to keep all citizens and visitors to Erie County safe by planning for emergency situations, training staff and citizens to respond swiftly and effectively to incidents, and by providing comprehensive dispatch services.

The department, which operates as part of the county executive’s administration and is overseen by the director of administration, includes a division for the 911 Center and a division for Emergency Management.

The 911 Center, which operates 24/7 out of the Public Safety headquarters in Summit Township, employs 46 full-time telecommunicators and three full-time shift supervisors.

The telecommunicators are highly trained, having received 14 weeks of training – including national certifications – before working on their own.

The center provides dispatch services for eight law enforcement agencies and 32 fire and EMS agencies.

In 2016, the 911 Center provided answered 167,403 calls, or an average of 459 per day.

In addition to taking calls from citizens and dispatching first responders, the 911 Center aims to educate the public about when to call 911 and what to expect in the call.

Did you know? This week, April 9-15, is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Department of Health – Environmental Health

As part of its mission to protect the health and well-being of all residents, the Erie County Department of Health sponsors an Environmental health division.

The Environmental health division is perhaps best known for inspecting and licensing eating establishments around the county – including restaurants, cafeterias, concession stands, and any place that sells unpackaged food. But the division also inspects public schools, manufactured home parks, campgrounds, and tattoo/piercing establishments, as well as sewage treatment plants and wastewater facilities.

In addition, the division monitors mosquitoes for the presence of West Nile Virus and works to educate the public about ticks that carry Lyme disease. The Environmental division also takes an active role in issues that affect our waterways, such as monitoring for harmful algal blooms and analyzing E. coli levels in beach water.

Did you know? The Erie County Department of Health teamed up with the Erie County Extension to sponsor a pollinator garden outside the ECDH building on West Second Street in Erie.

Department of Health

The Erie County Department of Health aims to preserve, promote and protect the health, safety and well-being of Erie County’s residents as well as their environment.

Director Melissa Lyon and her team embrace their role as leaders in public health, promoting not just whole-body health but whole-community health.

The Department of Health, which operates as part of the county executive’s team under the director of administration, has several divisions – including Community Health, Health Promotion and Public Health Preparedness – that work in concert to promote the overall health of Erie County.

The department works to prevent the spread of communicable disease in the community, which includes efforts to educate the public about STDs, to promote immunizations for diseases like influenza and shingles, and to work with Erie’s refugee population.

The department also works to improve health habits among Erie County residents. That includes administering grant-funded programs that help residents stop smoking, that work to promote safety, and that aim to ward off chronic diseases.

The Department of Health sponsors a dental clinic, arranges home visits for mothers-to-be, promotes healthy eating, and encourages Erie County residents to get outside.

Did you know? This week, April 3-9, is National Public Health Week.

Director of Administration

The director of administration, who serves immediately under the Erie County Executive, oversees 10 departments and offices in the executive branch.

The departments and offices under the oversight of the director of administration are the departments of Health, Public Safety, Planning, Veterans Affairs, Corrections and Human Services; the Erie County Library; the Public Defender’s Office; and the offices of Procurement and Operations.

The director of administration also promotes efficiency in operations, manages capital projects, acts as a liaison with other elected officials, and represents the county in the community.

Gary Lee has served as director of administration since he was appointed to the position by County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper in 2014.

Did you know? The director of administration oversees approximately 800 employees.

County Executive

The Erie County Executive represents the executive branch of county government. The county executive’s role is to provide visible, visionary leadership for the region, including by collaborating with elected officials and with both public and private partners.

Kathy Dahlkemper, as county executive since 2014, oversees the administration of county departments, makes appointments to county boards and authorities, approves ordinances, and submits an annual operating budget to Erie County Council.

The county executive’s team includes the director of administration; the county solicitor, who handles Right to Know requests; and the directors of Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology.

As the county’s highest ranking elected official, the county executive is ultimately accountable to the citizens of Erie County.

Did you know? Kathy Dahlkemper is the sixth Erie County Executive since the position was created in 1978. Previously, the county operated under a board of elected commissioners.

Sheriff

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office provides services and programs to maintain safety and education across the county. To that end, the department works with law enforcement agencies within the Erie County.

Erie County Sheriff John Loomis, who first took office in 2014, oversees 42 sworn deputies plus office staff.

The Sheriff’s Department provides security for the Erie County Courthouse, including escorting inmates to and from court hearings. The department also provides school resource officers at several Erie County schools and sponsors a volunteer SCUBA team and volunteer mounted posse.

The department also handles firearms licenses, oversees sheriff’s property sales, and helps search for Erie County’s Most Wanted criminals.

Did you know? In 2016, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department served a total of 2,664 warrants.

Coroner

The Erie County Coroner investigates any unnatural deaths that occur in Erie County in order to determine the cause of death. This includes accidents, suicides, homicides, overdose deaths, or any other death where the cause is undetermined.

The Coroner also provides autopsy and toxicology reports.

Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook, who was first elected to the position in 2000, has been working in the Coroner’s Office since 1982. Either Cook or one of his deputies is on call 24/7, ready to be summoned to the scene of a suspicious death.

In 2016, the Coroner’s Office staff was at the scene of 580 deaths in Erie County.

Did you know? The Erie County Coroner’s Office’s forensic pathologist conducts autopsies for not just Erie County but for 13 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Elections and Voter Registration

The Erie County Election Department consists of the Voter Registration Office and the Conduct of Elections Bureau.

Voter Registration maintains the county’s voter registration list, as well as many other duties that surround primary and general elections.If you need to register to vote, would like to switch your party affiliation or get an absentee ballot, this office is the place to go.

The Conduct of Elections Bureau coordinates the nominating petition process for placing candidates on the ballot. The office also creates the County’s official ballot, and programs and maintains voting machines. On Election Day, the office oversees voting at 150 precincts across the county and tally the votes.

Did you know? The last day to register to vote before this year’s municipal primary is April 17. The primary is on May 16.

County Council

Erie County Council, as the legislative branch of Erie County government, is responsible for passing the county budget, which in 2017 is $436.6 million. Council also oversees the Erie County Elections Office and the Human Relations Commission. Council members sit as the Board of Trustees for Pleasant Ridge Manor, the county’s skilled nursing home facility.

Each of Council’s seven members represents a district in Erie County. Your Council Representatives are: Kathy Fatica, District 1; André R.  Horton, District 2; Fiore Leone, District 3; Jay Breneman, District 4; Dr. Kyle Foust, District 5; Edward DiMattio, District 6; and Carol Loll, District 7.

Council generally meets every other Tuesday at 7 p.m. You can also view video from previous meetings online.

Did you know? Members of the public are invited to speak at Council Council meetings.

Welcome to Inside E.C.!

This April, in honor of National County Government Month, we are giving Erie County residents a closer look at their county government.

Each day, we will post about a different office or service in the county. Our hope is that you will get to know the people and places of your Erie County government, and become more aware of the services that we provide.

You can follow along here on our blog, or you can watch for updates on social media. Find Erie County on Facebook at @ErieCountyPennsylvania or on Twitter at @CountyofErie.