KITTANNING – A new “fraud, waste and abuse” hotline is up and running in Armstrong County, officials announced at a recent meeting.

County Controller Myra Miller made the announcement about the new hotline at the Nov. 7 meeting of the county commissioners.

Miller said the hotline is aimed at finding potential fraud and waste within the county government, and not related to Social Security or welfare frauds.

“At a minimum, it’s a deterrent,” she said. “Most fraud is caught by tips.”

Miller said callers can remain anonymous, but are encouraged to provide as much information as possible to help the county investigate the claims.

A flyer related to the hotline — which can be reached at (724) 548-3700 — notes that it is for reporting theft of money, equipment or supplies; illegitimate invoices for goods or services, or other false claims; false reporting of hours worked; false reporting of travel or other expense reimbursements; mismanagement of taxpayer dollars; gross disregard of policies and procedures; and any other suspected fraud, waste or abuse.

Not only can tips be made to the telephone hotline, Miller said fraud tips can also be made online on the Controller’s page at www.co.armstrong.pa.us, or by mailing tips to: Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline, Confidential, c/o Armstrong County Controller, 450 East Market Street, Kittanning, PA 16201.

While the hotline went live on Nov. 1, Miller said that as of the first week, no fraud tips had been reported.

In other business at the Nov. 7 meeting, commissioners Jason Renshaw and George Skamai announced that applications are now being accepted for the county’s Farmland Preservation Program.

The purpose of the program is to protect viable agricultural lands by obtaining agricultural conservation easements, which prohibit the development or improvement of the land for any use other than agricultural production. The program provides compensation to the landowners in exchange for giving up the right to develop the property. The easement is worth a maximum of $2,000 per acre, depending on the land’s value.

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Applications for the program will be accepted through Dec. 20. For more information, contact the Armstrong Conservation District at (724) 545-3628.

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Other Business

• The commissioners approved transferring $2,874 in unused Community Development Block Grant funding from a South Bethlehem Borough project to help make up for over budget costs related to a recent Bradys Bend Township project.

• Officials announced that the courthouse parking lot paving project will cost $81,000 more than first anticipated. After digging at the site began and old building foundations were found, additional work was needed to prepare the site for paving.

• Roxanna Dunn of Ford City was reappointed to the Housing Authority of Armstrong County, while Robert Polczynski of New Kensington was reappointed to the Armstrong County Hospital Authority.

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