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Howard's Inc.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Political tensions continue in Genesee Twp.

By Sharon Corderman

Due to a damaging storm a day earlier, electric power was still out for much of Genesee Township when the May meeting of the board of supervisors was held and that may have contributed to a somewhat smaller audience than is typical.

Supervisors voted unanimously on several actions, as follows:
• converting a small section of the town’s street lights to LED. Calculated savings on a total switchover are estimated at $25-$30 a month;
• using 2016 County Liquid Fuels allocation, in the amount of $2,609, to purchase sluice pipe; and
• accepting updated employee job descriptions.

Discussion about the condition of the current landscape rake, as well as budgeted money for new equipment, led some to conclude that a new rake would increase efficiency and economy by reducing the number of trips the grader must make over the same area. The grader could be moved to the next section of road and the rake could be used to finish the graded portion more economically. Supervisor Scott Luce made a motion to purchase a York Rake from Bradco Supply for $6,500 minus the trade-in of the current rake, which was valued at $750. Supervisor Scot Miller seconded the motion and Supervisor Dann Thompson voted against the action.

Secretary Kristine Smith noted that the roadside clean-up program continues across the state until May 27. PennDOT has supplied gloves, vests and bags and will dispose of gathered trash. Smith has heard from several local organizations and individuals willing to help with clean-up of township roads. She can be reached at the township office (228-3366) for more information about this project.

Thompson raised a question during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding a payroll transaction made to Luce. The answer was that Luce was paid in his capacity as emergency management coordinator for the township, a position he has held for a number of years. State law requires that every county and municipal government develop and maintain an emergency management program and the coordinator, who must be appointed by the governor, is responsible for implementing the program. The rate of pay is set by the township auditors. Luce was paid for his time updating the required annual report.

A resident asked for an update on the civil suit against the township and two of its supervisors and was told that there is no new information. The last update, about a month ago, reported that the appointed solicitor’s fees to defend the township are approaching $10,000. The suit, filed by Supervisor Thompson and residents Dennis Matteson and Rance Baxter, alleges Sunshine Act violations by the previous board of supervisors and calls for Luce and Miller to resign from the board because they were appointed by their predecessors upon their resignations. Additional information about the suit was provided during the comment period of the candidates’ forum held May 9.

Two candidates attended the forum, which was sponsored by a committee of volunteer residents and moderated by Jack Jones and Sharon Corderman. Darrell and Ruth Davis, who coordinated the events (an earlier forum was held in late March to accommodate a candidate who was out of the area during the month of April), invited all four candidates but David Furman and James Smoker declined the first invitation and no response was received from them to the second invitation.

Miller and Luce addressed the suit issue in their closing comments at the forum, with Miller calling it the “Lawsuit to Nowhere” and adding that, as it seems the suit is being left to die of its own accord, he feels he can finally say what he has had to “keep inside for more than a year.” He noted that depositions were scheduled for March but the plaintiffs have neglected to respond. Controversy regarding the solid waste fund is given as the reason for the plaintiffs to seek the removal of Miller and Luce, with plaintiffs claiming that they are unwilling to pursue alleged misappropriations of funds by the previous board of supervisors because they were appointed by those same supervisors. Miller and Luce say they have looked into the situation and there’s no ‘there, there.’ Matteson and Baxter, who have conducted an intensive investigation into the township’s funds and solid waste program for a number of years, were joined in the suit by Thompson after he was elected in a write-in campaign in 2015 and disagreed with the appointments of Luce and Miller in the weeks following the election. When asked in April 2016 if their examination of the solid waste fund showed any missing money, Matteson and Thompson said it didn’t. Rather, their dispute is that funds were misappropriated and the $50 a year garbage fee is not necessary to fund the program.

The municipal primary election is Tuesday, May 16. The next township meeting is set for Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. at the Genesee Firehall.


Anonymous said...

I think Supervisor Thompson and residents Dennis Matteson and Rance Baxter are trouble makers. I sure hope the town can be rid of this burden soon.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me they can't seem to work together to bring the community they serve all the help and support they need to thrive! I think it is time for them to grow up and be kind and caring men to be a pillar in a community!! Work together little ones mommy says so!!

Anonymous said...

Vey Sad adults set an example by acting like little children......

Anonymous said...

Praying this mess is over after tonight !!! New blood takes over for your township.....