Ligonier Township looks into hiring manager
Ligonier Township supervisors will accept applications for a committee to study the possibility of hiring a township manager as Westmoreland County detectives investigate undisclosed irregularities uncovered during an audit.
“It's obvious we need some oversight,” Supervisor Grover Binkey said at a meeting Tuesday. “With the things that are going on, we could probably use a manager, but we're not sure how we could pay him.”
In early May, Keith Whipkey resigned as supervisor and secretary treasurer posts, citing personal reasons.
In July, an audit conducted by Deltron Management Consultants allegedly uncovered proof that Whipkey had been viewing “Internet sites that were inappropriate on company time” and that zoning officer Cynthia Angelo, who had been appointed interim secretary treasurer, had been operating an “Internet flea market” on her office computer, according to Supervisor Tim Komar.
Officials ended Angelo's employment at a special meeting on July 25. Komar said the township will pursue possible theft charges against Whipkey and Angelo.
On Tuesday, resident Chris Turner urged the supervisors to consider creating a committee to determine whether the manager position should be created.
“You seem to agree you need it,” Turner said. “Why not find out what it's going to cost and what the benefits would be?”
Supervisors voted 2-1 to form the committee, with Supervisor Albert “Mike” Shadron dissenting.
When the audit of the secretary treasurer office was mentioned, Komar said, “There was information turned over to the district attorney's office today. We had to go through things so that reports could be done. The reports were given to the district attorney's office today.”
Three county detectives visited the township Tuesday to collect information, Binkey said.
The audit, which contains “major omissions,” is not complete, Komar said.
“The investigation into the secretary treasurer's office is ongoing,” Komar said. “It grew a lot bigger than I'm at liberty to say right now.”
The supervisors voted unanimously to use Building Inspection Underwriters to conduct interim zoning functions.
Komar said the agency was recommended by officials from Derry Borough and other communities.
BIU will perform zoning duties on a monthly basis as needed. It will be paid $55 per code-enforcement inspection, including one additional inspection. After that, additional re-inspections will cost $55. BIU will be paid $55 per zoning hearing or meeting for the first hour and $13.75 for every additional 15 minutes.
Komar said “time is of the essence” in putting some sort of zoning procedure in place until a zoning officer is hired because, by law, if the township does not act on pending building permit applications on a timely basis, applicants can apply for a deemed approval.
The township has received 20 applications for the position, including two applicants with zoning experience. Komar said they do not have time to interview and train someone in time to meet the 30-day window for outstanding applications.
“We're under the gun on this,” he said.
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.