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Co-Pay in Auditor Litigation Costs Township $3500

Co-Pay in Auditor Litigation Costs Township $3500
By Bessy Gurian

Pike County Dispatch - Thursday, August 4, 2016

DINGMAS FERRY – Delaware Township Supervisors voted to compensate IRM $3,500 as a combined copay in defense of the Township in the auditor litigation involving pensions as well as for the defense of former supervisors Ileana Hernandez and Ted Parsell.


Township Supervisor and Chair Jeffrey Scheetz spoke to the Dispatch in a phone interview regarding the outcome of the motion, “As far as we are concerned, this should end the whole matter.  The current auditors have chosen not to appeal…Now we just, as we knew we would, have to pay the legal fees, in effect for, suing ourselves.”What Scheetz refers to is a lawsuit filed against the township be elected Auditors Dennis Lee, Michael Dickerson and Jane Neufeld back in 2006 accusing Hernandez and Parsell of illegally compensating themselves through lucrative pensions.  Ileana Hernadez and Ted Parsell were employees of Delaware Township and served as elected supervisors.  Parsell was the township roadmaster and Hernandez was secretary-treasurer.  According to the Second Class Township Code, which covers Delaware Township, when elected supervisors are also township employees, elected auditors set the amount of compensation for them, including pension plans.


Supervisors also approved a motion to have Boucher & James carry out a Road Traffic Study on Doolan Road in order to submit findings to PennDOT.  The study, which will cost the township $2,800, would provide PennDOT the data necessary to allow the township to reduce the current default speed of 44 mph to something safer for all those who use the thoroughfare.Boucher & James has also been commissioned to carry out a Load Analysis study of the Recreation Building at Akenac Park, a study that Scheetz comments has not been received in final form.


“We have not seen the final document from Boucher & James yet…but ther is no danger of the Rec Hall collapsing or anything like that.  It’s been up in existence for years and years…but we want an official report presenting any work that needs to be done to guarantee it’s going to hold up for the next, however many years.  We’re pretty safe now and we need to keep it that way to protect all the people who might be using it.”The township also announced a Free Movie Night at Akenac Park on Saturday, August 13 featuring “Zootopia.”  For more information on this and other township news, visit the township Website at www.delawaretownshippa.gov or call (570) 828-2347.

Delaware Engineers to Test Rec Building’s Floor

       Delaware Engineers to Test Rec Building’s Floor
By: Bessy Gurian
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, July 21, 2016

 DINGMANS FERRY-During their July 13 meeting, The Delaware Township Board of Supervisors voted to have Boucher & James carry out a load study on the Recreation Building located in Akenac Park.

                 The study would allow the township’s consulting engineering firm to perform a “structural analysis of the floor system along with recommendations for repairs to any piers in need,” as stated in a letter from B&J addressed to Supervisor and Chair, Jeffrey Scheetz.

                 The study, which will cost the township an estimated $4,000, will include two site visits, preparation of the plan, performance of structural calculations and a report presentation.

                 Supervisors also approved a motion to pay the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company the amount of $115,459.11 for 2016 second quarter fire taxes, the purchase of six partitions for the Akenac Park Bath House totaling over $5,000, and to pay the PSATS Pension Trust in the amount of $49,177 for the 2016 Pension Minimum Municipal Obligations.

                 The Board voted to advertise the position of Alternate Zoning Officer and to take forceful action on 105 Pocono Circle.  Said property is in violation of township ordinances and according to Township Solicitor Thomas Farley, “a mortgage company owns it and is not responding…the property is a mess.  I’ve been instructed to take legal action to force the mortgage company and or the squatter/owner.”

                 During the workshop portion of the meeting Supervisors informed the public that Doolan Road does not qualify as an urban area and would require a traffic study to establish a speed limit.  Supervisors agreed to reach out to Boucher & James to inquire about the cost of a traffic study.

                 The workshop agenda also included the topic of the Akenac Park playground.

                 Scheetz explained to the audience that they had made a decision with regards to the company they were going to use for the construction of the new playground.  The company would work with the township in terms of budget, design and phasing.

                 Supervisor John Henderson expressed his concern over the decision. “I wasn’t involved personally, in any of this…Where, I’m going with this is that, when we commit to spending a lot of money all three supervisors need to be involved in the decision.”  Supervisors agreed to place the subject on the workshop agenda to allow for further discussion.

                 Supervisors also announced a free Movie Night at Akenac Park, Saturday, Aug. 13 featuring “Zootopia” and reminded the public that the Pike County Sheriff’s Drug Take Back Program is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 12pm and 12:30pm to 4:15pm.  All pills should be placed in Ziploc bags.  No bottles are accepted.

 

 

 

Spending Approval For Recreation Hall Wasn’t Unanimous

 Spending Approval For Recreation Hall Wasn’t Unanimous

 By: Bessy Gurian
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, July 7, 2016

 DINGMANS FERRY- The Delaware Township Board of Supervisors voted yes on several motions regarding Akenac Park during the June 22 meeting, although not all supervisors were in agreement with the spending.

                 Supervisors voted to pay for Singer equipment installed in the Recreation Hall at Akenac Park in the amount of $15,683.05 from the Monroe LSA account with Supervisor John Henderson adding, “I’m going to vote yes on this thing even though I disagree with a lot of stuff that is going in the Rec Hall simply because the equipment’s there, the people did their job and we need to pay them for what they did.”

                 Supervisors also voted to purchase building materials for the bathhouse totaling $6,822.87 plus labor, which totaled $7,717.00.  Henderson commented, “I am going to vote no on this motion.  We are going to shortly authorize, I hope, a stress analysis or whatever you want to call it for the Rec Hall and I’d like to hold off on spending until we find out what the results of that are and how much it’s going to cost to remediate anything down there, should that be necessary.”

                 Supervisor Tom Ryan added a motion to add $2,000 for pier remediation per Boucher & James’s recommendation.  Both motions were approved by Ryan and Supervisor Chairman Jeff Scheetz.

                 In other business, Resolution 2016-05 for the plan review of the Sewage Facilities Planning Module for Marcel Lakes Estates was approved as well as upgrades to the Township Website by Niki Jones Agency since the Website had suffered hacker attacks in the last few weeks and was in need of an archive module to keep the site clean.

                 During the public comment section of the agenda, Supervisors heard a multiple-page statement made by Rebecca Gray-Kochovos, member of two previous Recreation Boards for the township; one under the old ordinance and one under the new ordinance.  G-K claimed along with another former member of the Recreation Board that during their terms in office in 2012, the Board of Supervisors failed to inform them of their duties, terms, bylaws and ordinance.

                 “In December 2012 we held our first meeting, we were not informed of any new ordinance; we were not given bylaws, or agenda of what our responsibilities were.  We were not told that we needed to be five members, or how long our terms were.” G-K asked the Supervisors for an apology.

                 Other public participation included comments from Jane Neufeld.  She asked the township to consider safety and liability with regards to the foundation of the Recreation Hall and Bath House at Akenac Park.  Neufeld urged the Supervisors to consider putting off spending on matters not urgent to the buildings, such as the kitchen, but to rather spend time and resources on the foundations of these buildings.  Ryan explained to Neufeld that the kitchen was a priority in the Master Plan and that the board was following the plan.

                 Scheetz announced that the Delaware Township Public Library would have Summer Story Hours Friday at 1:30pm and the Mommy and Me Coloring Club from 1-2:20 pm the first Wednesday of every month.  In addition, Akenac Park would host Free Movie Night Saturday July 9 featuring “Pan.”  Other events include Free Pond Exploration at Akenac Park provided by the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) Sunday, July 10th from 1-3pm and the Pike County Sheriff’s Drug Take Back Program, Monday through Friday 8:30 to noon and 12:30 to 4:15.

 

 

 

Debate Continues On Akenac Renovations

 

Debate Continues On Akenac Renovations
by: Bessy Gurian
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, June 2, 2016

 DINGMANS FERRY-Once again, Akenac Park is a topic of disagreement.  During the May 25 Delaware Township Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the public and supervisors disagreed on how renovation efforts are being carried out at Akenac Park.

 Dawn Bukaj, a resident and active member of the community, questioned supervisors on what had been done between 2013 and today, since in 2013 the Board of Supervisors knew that the playground was at the end of its life.

“Back in 2013, the supervisors charged the then Events Board to find the money to do a new playground.  They got the booklet of grants, they started the process and then this Board of Supervisors, without any discussion with the Events Board dissolved them at a Supervisor’s Meeting…So between 2013 and 2016 when the playground was taken down, what was done?  In 2013, the Board of Supervisors knew that that playground was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.  What happened in that time span?  Since the Events Board, who could’ve very well taken care of that, taken it off of everyone’s plate, brought it to you for approval, was dissolved and today?”

 Supervisor Chairman Jeff Scheetz, responded that he was not present at the time, so he could not answer, to which Bukaj responded, that there was one supervisor that was there.  Supervisor Tom Ryan replied, “My memory is shot, I can’t remember the whole story.”

  Earlier in the meeting, Ryan had also commented on the lack of support they were receiving from parents.  After Bukaj’s comments, a resident and parent responded that parents who took their kids to Akenac were not always available for township meetings.  “They are not here for these meetings.  They’re down there working.  They’re only here, you know; on the weekend and the summertime…Let’s start something.  Like you said, you had the boards up (in reference to boards the Supervisors had on display at a previous meeting depiction playground designs) and everyone thought it was a go, and now we’re just sitting here wondering what’s going on.”

Supervisors explained that they were waiting on an interactive DVD from a manufacturer so it could be available for residents to see playground designs.

 There are also disagreements amongst the supervisors in terms of renovation efforts.  When it came time to vote on a payment if $4,200 for a 400-amp overhead service, meter consolidation and connection to the distribution panel with new breakers and a reconnection of all sub-feeders, Supervisor John Henderson voted “no.” Henderson is also against some of the renovations taking place.  He sat with the Dispatch immediately after the meeting to discuss his concerns.  “Well, basically I’m opposed to a lot of ‘extraordinary’, I’ll use the word ‘extraordinary’ spending on the camp (Akenac).  I think it’s a wonderful idea.  I don’t think the camp should ever be closed.  It started out as a rural recreational area and it was a wonderful idea, but it somehow got changed to…..one of the things in the documents, ‘to establish a restaurant .’ I’ve had people go through there and the restaurant equipment there is high class equipment.  It’s wonderful equipment, but it’s above and beyond what I believe the township needs.  We’re a rural area yet and we’re building the Taj Mahal in there, and that’s why I voted ‘no.’  We need to bring stuff down to a scale that’s appropriate for Delaware Township.

 In the previous Board of Supervisors’ Meeting, Henderson had expressed concerns regarding Boucher & James’ construction plans, holding up a folder containing very few documents and asking the Supervisors to look into the matter.

 “….I asked them (Boucher & James) for all the drawings that they had and those three plans were the only ones they produced for me (referring to the file he had shown at the previous meeting).  And those plans raise a lot of questions.  For instance, on one of the plans there is stairs, and if you look at the stairs, there is a beam right across the stairs.  Nobody can use them.  There’s no way those stairs are ever going to meet ADA of OSHA requirements.”

When questioned whether Boucher & James built those stairs, Henderson replied that one of the letters sent to him by the aforementioned firm state that the stairs were put in after they did their evaluation of the grounds and that he doesn’t know who put them in, but that they’re dangerous.

When asked what his recommendations to the township would be, he states, “I would remove those stairs, first of all, to eliminate the safety hazard.  I would hire somebody who that knows, a professional that knows about kitchens, and get them in there to evaluate the kitchen.  The one restaurateur that I had through there said the layout is bad, the whole situation is, as I say, so upscale for Delaware Township.  It’s like we can afford a Chevy, but we just brought a Cadillac.”

Supervisor Scheetz had this to say with regards to Henderson’s comments, “What we are replacing as per the committee who looked at that, which I think Mr. Henderson was on it; it was a commercial kitchen…..those appliances were antiquated.  They couldn’t be used anymore, so we had to buy new.  We had to bring them up to code, all the safety standards, ‘cause that’s our primary issue.  And, if there was a cheaper way to do it, I don’t know what it would’ve been.  We have made that whole kitchen facility useable now for at least three seasons of the year, possibly even four.  Originally it was designed for just the summers, when it was just the campers that stayed there….and we wanted to get a lot more use out of it, because it was costing a lot of money to do it.”

 When asked about Mr. Henderson’s comments about taking a restaurateur through the facility, he answered, “Well, A: that’s one person’s opinion.  We had our engineer, Boucher & James.  They designed it and they approved it.  Our building inspector approved it.  I’m not going to say their opinions weren’t perfectly valid, of course they were.  That’s what we’re paying them for, that’s what they’re certified to do.  If we had any viable opinion that what was in there was unsafe, I certainly wouldn’t have approved it.

“And, again, I’m a layman when it comes to the equipment that’s in there, but it’s essentially the same equipment, the same kind of equipment that was in there previously, that stay unused, for I don’t know how many years.”  It should also be noted that the other Supervisors had at least five large binders containing documentation on the Akenac project for the public to see.”

 Among other things voted on at the meeting were, Resolution 2016-3 to participate in an online electricity auction with EMEX, Inc, to acquire better rates; Bid Awards in favor of Pocono Spray for $14,570.11 for ½ mile of Spencer Road, Wayco for $12,666.76 for a portion of Weber Road and the Child’s Park Road Culvert for $49, 700 to Leeward Construction.

 If you would like to attend the Delaware Township Board of Supervisors meetings, they meet the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at the Delaware Township Municipal Meeting.  The workshop begins at 5p.m. followed by the meeting at 6:30.  The workshop is a place for discussion of various items concerning the community.  For more information, contact the office at 570-828-2347 or check out their Website at www.delawaretownshippa.gov for meeting minutes and other documentation.

 

Supervisors Chide Auditors for Sunshine Law Violation

Supervisors Chide Auditors for Sunshine Law Violation

By: Bessy Gurian Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, May 19, 2016

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP-It was listed under the workshop heading as “Township Auditors” during the Delaware Township workshop and meeting Wednesday, May 11. What no one suspected was the “unintentional violation of the Sunshine Law” Township Supervisor and Chair Jeffrey Scheetz would use to describe the actions of the elected auditors.
According to Scheetz, the elected auditors held an executive session in February without notifying the public. Township Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Krista Predmore said elected auditors submitted a schedule of their February meeting as the third Saturday of the month, but held an executive session the Saturday prior, which was not announced to the public. Township Solicitor Thomas Farley stated the township would be informing the elected auditors of the violation in a formal letter addressing the issue.
Immediately following the township meeting, Scheetz sat down with the Dispatch to discuss concerns surrounding the actions of the elected auditors, the first of which is whether elected auditors are going beyond the scope of their duties.
“We’re not saying they’re not doing their job,” Scheetz said. “They’re doing more than their job, or they would perhaps, like to do more than what the law says they should be doing or can do.”
Supervisor concerns also involve taxpayer pockets. “If they were having meetings or as part of their meetings discussing issues…that are not within their purview to do, we have to pay for that—we, the tax payers, and we don’t think that that’s right.” Scheetz referred to the $10 per hour compensation elected auditors receive when they hold a meeting.
Jane Neufeld, the only elected auditor present at the meeting who did not attend the workshop where the announcement was made, told the Dispatch that she had not heard what was discussed about the Sunshine Law and if the auditors might have violated it.
Neufeld and fellow elected auditors Dennis Lee and Cody Smith had held an executive meeting back in February to discuss the litigation outcome involving a pension dispute from 2006. This was an activity that according to supervisors is outside the scope of their duties.
Elected auditors also argue that Thomas Ryan, who serves as township treasurer, and Predmore are not bonded, according to legal stipulations. Neufeld estimates Ryan should be bonded for $3.5-$3.7 million, (currently at $2.5 million) and Predmore should be bonded for the same amount as Ryan (currently at $100K). According to Neufeld, “She (Predmore) is the one who is the most involved with getting financial things done. Township treasurers do a lot more than sign checks. Township treasurers do budgets….they reconcile, enter information in QuickBooks, they provide information to the independent auditors…Krista has done the bulk of the budgeting with either Tom (Ryan) or Jeff (Scheetz) inputting for the last couple of years.
“I took an oath, as did everybody else, to uphold the laws of the state of Pennsylvania and I ran on basically, what I believe is integrity and oversight as best allowed by law,” Neufeld said “…What we did? We found something that was not in compliance with the law and we followed the only thing we knew to do,” referring to a letter sent by the elected auditors to township supervisors addressing the bonding concerns.
Supervisor John Henderson brought up concerns regarding construction plans for Camp Akenac’s bath house and rec hall. Henderson commented on the ill-suited location of handicapped bathrooms, the emergency exit and stairs that have been built without being in compliance with OSHA or ADA. He added that he sent a letter to Boucher and James and their response “raised more questions than answers.” He added, “We owe it to the township to get our ducks in line in this building.” Farley
assured the public that before any construction takes place, the township will have to abide by the same building codes as any other resident.
Township supervisors also announced plans to file a lawsuit against Camp Gan Israel due to township code violations, ordinance violations, and violations cited by the Department of Environmental Protection. Gershon Sandler, representing Camp Gan Israel, asked to speak to those allegations, but was told by Farley that a letter had been sent to their lawyer addressing all the notices and violations and that he should abstain from comment until consulting with his attorney.
The meeting included a public Hearing for the approval of Ordinance 206, which provides a curbside recycling program that governs the collection, storage, transportation processing and disposal of municipal solid waste in the township. After no public comment was received on the ordinance it was approved by the supervisors.

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