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New Stanton will hire a borough manager

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 8:32 p.m.

New Stanton Borough Council voted 4-2 to hire a borough manager at last week's meeting, despite many comments from residents protesting the creation of the position.

Council members Tom Smith and Linda Echard opposed it.

More than 15 residents turned out for the meeting, many with questions that they said council wouldn't answer — including a salary and job description for the post.

John Gomolak, who has lived in New Stanton for 41 years, addressed council with research he conducted on business manager positions in similar–sized boroughs that indicated a starting salary would come in at $79,000 to oversee public works, code enforcement, budget compilation and consultations with engineers and attorneys.

“We already have people to do that kind of stuff,” Gomolak said. “When I have a problem, I call people on the phone. I don't need a business manager to be a liaison.”

Smith agreed that residents' questions were not being addressed and that there are already people in place to handle the duties of a business manager.

“It's not fair to the people,” Smith said. “We have people now who do these jobs and people are going to lose their jobs or there are going to be pay cuts — one or the other.”

Smith suggested holding a town hall meeting to address the issue.

Attendees liked that idea, but it was rejected by council.

That move disappointed Barry Barnhart, a New Stanton resident since 1984 who was attending his first council meeting.

Officials “wouldn't answer questions and voted against what the constituents wanted,” he said. “There was not one person who was in favor. They seemed to disregard what the people had to say.”

Council President Scott Sistek said the turnout at the meeting was a small representation of the 2,200 residents in the borough.

“A manager is a good thing to have,” Sistek said. “We need to have organization and the borough can't be the best it can be without help. We're looking for someone to do things we can't. A manager can deal with everything that happens... . Issues will get resolved quicker.”

Sistek said he disagreed with the need for a town hall meeting because there are certain issues that council has been elected to handle.

He said when there was talk of creating a police force, there was a need for an informational meeting, but not for a policy decision to hire a borough manager

Councilman Wilbur Bussard said one reason officials did not answer questions is because they do not have all of the answers yet.

Sistek said some of the issues will be resolved as the borough sees its applicant pool and salary requirements are discussed. He suggested all council members and the mayor participate in the interview process.

“It's disappointing council did not listen to the people who elected them,” Gomolak said.

“There has to be changes in this town,” resident Stella Morgan said.

Michele Stewardson is contributing writer for Trib Total Media.