There likely will be little disagreement with a plan to relocate offices, but Blair County residents should be alarmed at commissioners' attitudes about making the decision out of the public's view.
Commissioners apparently have decided on a plan for shuffling offices in the courthouse. We say apparently because the decision wasn't made at a public meeting.
Under the latest scenario, the sheriff's department will move to the first floor where the county treasurer's office is located.
The treasurer office will move into the controller's office and the controller office, which has a larger staff than the treasurer's office, will relocate to the commissioners' office area.
To clear the way for the domino-style moving day, commissioners will move their offices from the first floor of the courthouse to the fourth floor of the attached annex.
The proposal makes sense.
It puts the sheriff's department closer to the area where deputies use metal detectors to keep weapons out of the facility, and it keeps the treasurer's office where residents go to buy licenses on the main floor of the courthouse. Earlier discussions had the controller's and treasurer's offices moving to the fourth floor, which would have been less convenient for residents.
The rub is that commissioners decided on the new alignment in private. Commissioners Terry Tomassetti and Diane Meling said they consider the changes to be an "administrative" matter that can be made outside of a public meeting.
An attorney for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association disagrees, especially since the county is expending taxpayer money to make the renovations for the moves.
It is expected to cost $13,000 to $14,000 to make the changes on the fourth floor.
"It's the general rule, agency business or official action that leads to the expenditure of public funds, should be done in public," Pennsylvania Newspaper Association attorney Melissa Melewsky told the Mirror.
The discussions that led to the decision also should have been done in public, she said
"If we, the elected commissioners, can't handle the relocation of our offices, then we don't have the minimum ability to make the decisions our electorate has the right to expect," Tomassetti said.
The question is not whether the commissioners have the right to make the decisions, but the way to make decisions that best serves the public and fits the spirit, if not the letter, of the state's Sunshine Law that basically says public business should be done in public.
As taxpayers, we have the right to expect that.