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North Hills

McCandless OKs term limits for volunteer posts

Tony LaRussa
| Saturday, March 3, 2018, 2:25 p.m.

McCandless council has set term limits and other restrictions on people who volunteer to serve on various boards, commissions and committees that help shape the decisions made by elected officials.

Council last week approved a series of changes to the appointment policy it created in May 2016 that was designed to encourage more residents to serve on advisory groups such as the planning commission, zoning hearing board, community day committee and environmental advisory committee.

The policy replaced council's long-standing practice of simply reappointing current members when their terms expired by requiring the positions be advertised and that residents who apply undergo an interview before being appointed by council.

An addition to the policy approved unanimously at the Feb. 26 meeting will limit people from serving more than two consecutive terms unless the town receives no other applications from qualified residents.

Council also added a provision that prohibits members of town council from serving on authorities, boards and commissions unless the rules governing those groups require that a seat be filled by a representative from council.

A council member, however, could fill a post if nobody applies or the position needs to be filled temporarily.

Additionally, the policy limits to one, the number of positions a resident can hold. That policy change applies to appointments made after June 1, 2016.

“These changes were made in the spirit of encouraging more citizens to be involved and making them (the positions) available to more people in the community,” council President Kim Zachary said.

Resident Brian Moreth, who has served on a number of volunteer groups for the township, said the term limits are misguided because they could result in people with experience and demonstrated ability automatically being replaced with people lacking a track record.

“Do not add term limits that spit on the records, knowledge and experience of the incumbents,” he said. “Put the best people in the position.”

Councilman Greg Walkauskus noted that council still will have the power to determine whether a person applying for a post is qualified to serve.

Councilwoman Joan Powers questioned the benefits of limiting terms.

“I do have a problem with removing someone who has done a very good job for a length of time for the Town of McCandless just for the sake of change,” she said. “If someone has done a very good job and they are interested in staying in the position, council has the decision to make whether they stay or not.”

Zachary reiterated that the intent of the policy change “was not to just remove someone, but to give others a chance to be involved.”

“We're not trying to say their (incumbents) service wasn't outstanding or appreciated,” she said.

She said potential applicants have commented that it is pointless to apply for a post if “incumbents are reappointed 100 percent of the time.”

Councilman Bill Kirk noted the change limits serving to just two consecutive terms, which means someone who has served in the past could reapply again in the future.

“It's a difficult balancing act to want to encourage participation and at same time take advantage of the resources and institutional knowledge of incumbents.”

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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