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Elizabeth Township commissioners continue steps to dissolve sanitary authority

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By Tim Karan
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 2:21 a.m.
 

Elizabeth Township took another step toward dissolving the township's sanitary authority during a roller coaster of a commissioners meeting that featured a resignation, an unexpected censure and an appearance by a man dressed as a Winnie the Pooh character.

Commissioners on Monday night unanimously authorized closing the authority's financial account and to transfer the balance of the funds — a little less than $23,000 — to the township's capital reserve account.

Commissioners were split on a separate resolution to appoint Jeffrey Mills as bond counsel for the township, but it was adopted 4-3. Commissioners Joanne Beckowitz, Donald Similo and Robert D. Thomas were opposed.

Solicitor Matthew D. Racunas said the steps are necessary steps for the dissolution approved in April.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge M.A. Della Vecchia issued a consent order in June calling for the township and authority to “take all necessary actions to dissolve and wind up its affairs” before Oct. 24.

“The resolution tonight just moved that process forward and authorized bond counsel to start getting financial information together,” Racunas said. “Bond counsel will figure out how to take the outstanding debt from the authority and bring it into the township.”

The board authorized advertising a special meeting for Monday at 7 p.m. to adopt a not-to-exceed borrowing ordinance for the acquisition of the authority.

“This next public meeting will be another step that will help establish a financing plan,” Racunas said. “If the township is going to take over that debt, they have to figure out exactly how to acquire those bond issues.”

Commissioners accepted the resignation of code enforcement officer James Matscherz, who has held the position since 2007. Matscherz has twice been named Pennsylvania Code Enforcement Officer of the Year.

“It's been very enjoyable working for the board and I really appreciate the opportunity,” Matscherz said.

The police department will fill in with code enforcement duties.

During a far less feel-good moment, Commissioner Clare Bryce elicited gasps when she moved to censure Commissioner Robert D. Thomas for allegedly telling individuals outside of the board what has been discussed in executive sessions.

Although Bryce offered no evidence, commissioners voted 4-3 to censure Thomas. Commissioners Beckowitz, Similo and Thomas were opposed.

Racunas explained that a censure is a “formal notification of improper actions” mostly for the public's knowledge.

Thomas later said he was “blindsided” by the accusation.

“I have no clue what (Bryce) is talking about,” he said. “This is just dirty local politics, that's all.”

But in lighter business, several residents — including one dressed in an orange and black Tigger costume — pleaded with commissioners to reconsider their intention to move Halloween celebrations from Oct. 31, a Thursday, to a Saturday, as discussed at a prior meeting.

That struck a chord with commissioners, who unanimously approved the Halloween parade and township-wide trick-or-treating to take place on Oct. 31.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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