Springdale Township residents say sole road worker needs a hand
By Sarah Kovash
Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 12:51 a.m.
With sometimes neglected roads and grass so high it's “embarrassing,” some residents are calling for Springdale Township to hire a second road worker.
Springdale's sole laborer, Mike Shock, has been the only person taking care of the roads, cleaning up after storms like Superstorm Sandy and generally maintaining the township for the past two years.
A handful of residents raised concerns about the one-man operation at Thursday's township commissioners meeting.
Although residents said Shock is doing a good job, they said he needs help.
Cathy Blazonczyk, who lives on Williams Road, said over the summer the grass at the Williams Street Park wasn't cut often enough over the summer and the roads aren't always salted by the time she goes to work early in the morning.
“If my grass was that high, I would have gotten cited for it,” Blazonczyk said, who called the situation “embarrassing.”
When reached after the meeting, Shock said it's true — he isn't always able to take care of the roads and especially plow snow in a timely manner — because the job is simply too big.
“It's a lot of work for one guy,” Shock said.
Before that, two employees took care of the same job until Phil Hans retired after 30 years, in 2010.
Hans is now one of the township commissioners.
Residents asked commissioners at Thursday's meeting if they would consider hiring a second employee, but commissioners said they couldn't talk about it because it was a personnel issue.
“We are looking into some things,” Commissioner Henrietta James said, “we just can't say some things.”
Part of the problem is that Shock's contract expires in December.
But since he's a one-person union, the township doesn't have to recognize him as a union employee.
And although they might not recognize him as a union employee going forward, commissioners say it doesn't mean that his pay would decrease.
Township officials say that they've told Shock to let them know if he needs help, but he's never asked.
“If they tell you I didn't ask for help, they're full of it, because I need help,” Shock said in a phone interview.
He said he's told commissioners on numerous occasions that he can't efficiently get his job done without more help.
Township officials did say that Shock will call out a plumber or electrician if he needs help with specific projects and that neighboring municipalities will send over workers sometimes, too.
But if residents really want a second township laborer, commissioners say there's a good chance the township will have to raise taxes.
Commissioners did say though, that they would consider residents' requests for a second laborer.
“I'd just like to see them hire me help,” Shock said.
Township officials want to raise the local service tax, making it five times higher.
They want to increase it from $10 to $52.
The tax would be levied only on people who work in the township.
Springdale officials say the township is the only municipality in Allegheny County that doesn't charge the maximum amount of $52.
Springdale has charged $10 since the limit was bumped up to $52 in 2007.
Commissioners will vote on the tax hike at December's meeting.
Sarah Kovash is a freelance writer.
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