Empty Chair At Delaware Dais Is “Elephant In The Room”
Empty Chair At Delaware Dais Is “Elephant In The Room”
Pike County Dispatch - Thursday, January 20, 2017
By Wayne Witkowski
Dingmans Ferry- A chair at the front table was noticeably empty at a packed Delaware Township Board of Supervisors meeting last week as board members Jeff Scheetz and John Henderson accepted the resignation of Supervisor Tom Ryan, a Republican, effective immediately. But nobody in the crowded audience commented on Ryan’s resignation.
The large gathering sat through Scheetz explaining the protocol for accepting applications and selecting a supervisor to complete Ryan’s term that expires at the end of the year. In his resignation letter, Ryan said he relinquished the seat because of overlapping obligations balancing township duties with his service to local veterans. He also said he had finalized plans for his retirement with his wife, Debbie.
It was explained that letters of interest would be received up to Jan. 20 with a meeting to consider a selected candidate during the regular bi-monthly meeting on Jan. 25. If the two supervisors are deadlocked on the choice, Vacancy Board Jeff Shirley will cast a deciding vote in a Feb. 13 meeting. If the choice remains deadlocked it will go to Pike County President Judge Joseph Kameen for a decision.
Ironically, the vacancy board position was debated at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 3 and Henderson recommended Steve McBride. Henderson showed a Right to Know document that showed Shirley, who has been reappointed to the position every year since 2012, gave a campaign contribution when Ryan ran for the position. The motion passed 2-1, with Henderson dissenting.
“I’m still against it” Henderson said after last week’s meeting.
Residents sat through a mostly routine agenda highlighted by approving a motion for township Solicitor Thomas Farley to draft an ordinance to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation lowering speed limits to 35 mph for much of Park Road. The ordinance eventually would be presented in a public hearing for vote. The Park Road motion came off a Park Road Traffic Study report presented during the workshop that preceded the meeting. Because there was an approved lowering of speed limits on Doolan Road last fall based on a similar traffic study, less groundwork would be needed by Farley, said Scheetz.
The agenda included approvals for moving money to pay bills and mostly routine approvals regarding public events at Akenac Park and usage of the municipal building for birthday parties, the Milford Valley Quilters Guild and a ballet group.
Scheetz affirmed a question from a resident if Pocono Mountain Lake Estates was paying a rental for approved usage of the building for meetings in four different months. Electronics pickup days in the spring (April 1) and the fall (Oct. 7) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. were set. Also approved was a $5,460 purchase of a snow plow and mount for a road crew truck from Powell’s Sales and Service Inc. with money set aside at the reorganization meeting.
There was public comment on the meeting agenda at the start of the meeting on a few specifics of motions to be presented. But no one spoke during the customary public general comment period at the end of the meeting, including anything on Ryan from a crowd that, according to attendees, was a mixture of supporters and those opposed to Ryan. There was some applause early in the meeting when Scheetz praised the service of Ryan after his resignation was officially accepted.
With only two seated supervisors, Henderson was in an unusual position of casting a deciding vote on approving his application for a license to continue operating a junkyard he owns with his wife, Kathleen, in Dingmans Ferry. Henderson said, in the absence of a third supervisor, he is allowed to cast a vote, according to state ethics documentation given to him by township Solicitor Thomas Farley. With Scheetz voting in favor of the license to be rolled over for another year, Henderson’s vote carried the motion.
“Ordinarily I would abstain as I did last year,” Henderson, who first took office at the beginning of 2016, said before the vote. “I’ve run the business with my wife for 18 years and there has been a junkyard there for 30 years but I see that state procedure allows my vote with one supervisor no longer seated.”
Credit card Questions
Henderson in the early part of the meeting also questioned on the approval of $63,303.29 to pay General Fund bills, a listing of $1,050 and $1,414 for unspecified credit card expenses. He continued to urge that those purchases be itemized.
“My concern is bills being paid by credit card,” Henderson said. “There’s a long list of bills and one says “Visa” but not what it is for.”
Resident McBride suggested the credit card be registered under the township name and not the of a supervisor, but Township Administrator Krista Predmore expressed doubt that could be done in terms of signing off for purchases.
McBride asked if there were perks that come with the card- a Citizens Bank Masters Card- such as promotional payback offers, and Predmore said she did not think so. “I wonder if we should look for a credit card with that,” McBride said.
Resident Jane Neufeld pointed out that the township should not charge on a credit card at places where it already has an account.
“To do that wouldn’t make sense,” Neufeld said. “There should be safeguards and it should be controllable so someone doesn’t abuse it. There are policies and procedures out there for credit cards.”
Also at the meeting, the board approved a $559.95 upgrade to QuickBooks Pro 2017 from Intuit and it approved spending $199 for Fred Pryor Seminars that includes live seminars and more than 2,500 online courses.
When one resident questioned the purpose of the program and who benefits, Predmore said supervisors and township employees can take seminars that include human resources, time management and safety. Township staff took 45 of the seminars last year, she said.
It also approved buying a $299.99 portable kerosene heater form Northern Tool & Equipment to keep its equipment form possible damage during plunging winter temperatures.
In a carryover from the reorganization meeting, the board approved two tabled motions, one to appoint Sharon Franks to the township Planning Commission for a four-year term and to appoint Steve Vitale, Jim Owens, Wayne Day, Sean Helferty (alternate) and Mike Moffa (alternate) to the township Building Hearing Board.