The Lancaster County commissioners sparred openly today with District Attorney Craig Stedman about his controversial lease of a sport-utility vehicle with drug forfeiture proceeds, the largest source of revenue for the county’s taxpayer-supported Drug Task Force, which Stedman has described as being on the verge of fiscal collapse.
Stedman said the task force is facing a immediate funding crisis and called on the three elected county commissioners to develop solutions, including more money from county taxpayers. The commissioners raised questions about Stedman's use of seized assets and said they preferred to wait until a new district attorney is elected next week before discussing a more permanent funding model.
This was the first face-to-face showdown, and by far the most acrimonious public confrontation, between Stedman and the commissioners with whom he has clashed for nearly a year. It was also a rare display of rancor in county government, whose meetings are typically humdrum events attending by few, if any, citizens.
Funding for the task force has been a subject of contention between the district attorney and commissioners for several months. District Attorney Craig Stedman has maintained his position for increased funding in public statements and letters to municipal leaders.
The commissioners have expressed concern, however, as to how drug forfeiture funds — which are the task force's primary funding method — are being spent, including Stedman's lease of a sports utility vehicle in a manner the commissioners have denounced as lacking transparency.