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Elizabeth Township looks to dissolve sanitary authority

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 3:51 a.m.

Elizabeth Township commissioners are taking steps to dissolve the municipality's sanitary authority.

At a regular meeting on Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to direct township solicitor Pat McGrail to craft an ordinance terminating the Elizabeth Township Sanitary Authority.

The board will vote on it at a special meeting next week.

The board voted to hire attorney Jack Cambest to oversee the termination procedure at a rate of $95 per hour.

McGrail said Cambest was counsel for Forward Township when it dissolved its sanitary authority. Board of commissioners president Gene Francesconi, vice president Larry Vota, and Commissioners Claire Bryce and Chris Evans voted in favor of hiring Cambest. Commissioners Joanne Beckowitz, Donald Similo and Robert Thomas voted against it.

The actions came less than three months after commissioners voted to add two extra members to the sanitary authority board by amending the authority's article of incorporation, an action that was overruled by the Pennsylvania Department of State. The department said the action did not conform to state law because the authority did not propose the amendment.

McGrail said the township legally is authorized to termi nate the authority.

Officials say the township will operate the sanitary system once the authority is dissolved. As to who might oversee operations, Francesconi said, “We're nowhere close to that decision yet.”

The township has been without a business manager since February, when commissioners fired Aaron Sukenik from the position he'd held since July.

Prior to his hiring, the township had been without a chief administrator for about six months after former township secretary Malisa Migliori resigned in response to commissioners' changing the township's administrative structure.

Francesconi said the township could hire someone or use an existing employee to oversee the system. He would not elaborate on why the authority should be dissolved.

A special meeting is scheduled for April 9 at 7 p.m.

“The only thing I can say is come to the special meeting,” Francesconi said. “I got lots of reasons why I think we're better off going the way we are.”

Not all commissioners endorsed the move.

Similo said that even though he voted in favor of having McGrail draw up an ordinance, “That doesn't mean I agree with it.”

“We have to get it out on the table to see if it's feasible,” Similo said.

Thomas, who serves as commission liaison to the authority, said he had questions about the legality of the township dissolving the authority.

“I think it's a big mistake,” Thomas said. “I think our sanitary authority has run a good business.”

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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