Bortz resigns seat on WIB; county still grappling with policy issue

After the Warren County Commissioners once again tabled a resolution Wednesday authorizing representation to the Northwest Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Commissioner John Bortz resigned as appointed representative to the entity.

The commissioners have been tabling the resolution throughout recent meetings in part, due to concerns that language in the resolution would allow a single representative to the board could make decisions on behalf of the county, which the county would then be financially obligated to comply with.

In the past, the commissioners have expressed an informal policy of not making agreements in which a single commissioner could bind the county to decisions.

Bortz, meanwhile, cited organizational issues in his decision to resign as a member of the Chief Local Elected Officials of the WIB.

Bortz described the WIB as being made up of a “three-legged stool” structure:

The Chief Local Elected Officials acts as a governing body, and includes a commissioner from Warren, Clarion, Crawford, Forest and Venango counties as well as a county executive from Erie County,

The Regional Center for Workforce Excellence (RCWE) acts as a fiscal agent and administers programs,

And the Workforce Investment Board itself which is a consortium made up of volunteers from the private sector business community.

Another concern over the WIB in general has made the commissioners hesitant. Clarion, Forest and Venango counties may be considering a split from the larger WIB.

“I’ve had the opportunity to look under the hood, if you will, pertaining to the Workforce Investment Board and the capacity in which the Chief Elected Officials of the six-county region operate,” Bortz said. “We have a fundamental problem there that is exacerbating our time. That is, are we, or are we not a region? I do see there are some fundamental dysfunctions there. Not the least of which is, it’s not so much the Workforce Investment Board… it’s the governance that is being administered by the Chief Local Elected Official of the Workforce Investment Board.

“The RCWE does a fantastic job. The Workforce Investment Board, those are private sector individuals which are dedicating and volunteering their time toward workforce development. I’m very pleased with their efforts.

“However, at the Chief Local Elected Official level we have a question as to whether or not we’re even a region and that is a question which has to be rock solid and defined if we want to make the system work.

“One of the things I wanted to do as a board member is t go out and meet with our employers in this area… encourage the staff on the RCWE… but I can’t do that when the entire system is basically in crisis as a result of the leadership of Chief Local Elected Officials in the organization.

“Until that foundational issue is resolved, I don’t feel it’s a productive use of my time as a commissioner. There are any number of other, more local, issues that could be addressed.

“I am going to rededicate my time towards addressing those issues.”

While resigning as a Chief Local Elected Official, Bortz offered to act as liaison with the WIB for any ongoing the projects the county is involved with the organization for.

Bortz has served as the Warren County Chief Local Elected Official since January 2012.