Ousted Miller gets new Washington Township position
The Washington Township Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved a tentative 2014 budget that would not require a tax increase.
That was one of the few actions that didn't spark groans, jeers or protests from residents at the meeting – including one query about a rumored investigation by the state Ethics Commission.
The contentious meeting was littered with criticisms fielded exclusively by Supervisor Arnie Dull and Solicitor Don McCue. Emotions climaxed when the board appointed outgoing Supervisor Jamie Miller to the township Municipal Authority Board.
After accepting letters of interest from Miller and three other candidates, Dull and Miller voted to approve the appointment. Supervisor Chuck Yusko abstained from voting. The action prompted accusations — and loud booing.
“I think she's appropriate. I think she belongs there,” Dull said. “That's my opinion.”
After the meeting, Miller said voting on her own appointment was legal, based McCue's advice. Dull added that Miller “has put her heart and soul into this township.”
“I have no other motive than I like the community and to give our residents the best water and sewage rates they can get,” said Miller, addressing accusations that she had in the past entertained a plan to sell authority assets.
Miller, who lost a re-election bid in the May primary, will replace Gary Verkleeren on the authority board. Verkleeren recently resigned.
Dan Moody, who will join the board of supervisors in January, voiced concern that the authority is heavy with township officials or employees: Yusko, Miller, code enforcement officer Timothy Naulty and township engineer Dave Samek.
Julius Petrosky is the other member.
Dull denied a resident's assertion that the township is trying to “take over the authority” and confirmed the board did not interview the three unsuccessful candidates listed on the agenda: Ken Klancher, Daniel Reppert and Brook Gardner.
“So it's just a coincidence that's there's four township officials on (the authority)?” Moody said.
“Absolutely,” Dull said.
“So you interviewed no other candidates?” Moody asked.
“That's right,” Dull said. “I'm satisfied with the one I made. ... I think she has a good knowledge of everything that's going on in the township.”
Moody asked McCue, “Would you find that as a typical practice, that if you get a list of candidates, that you don't interview any of them?”
“I'm not going to answer any hypotheticals,” McCue replied.
“Is there any truth to the rumors that the township is being investigated by the ethics commission?” Klanchar asked later.
“No comment,” McCue asserted.
“OK, thanks Don,” said Klanchar, drawing laughter from the audience.
Miller and Dull later denied any knowledge of an investigation.
Resident Jaynee King, one of the most vocal residents, called Miller's appointment “nepotism.”
“I don't agree that everybody in this township has to be either a supervisor or friend of a supervisor to sit on a board,” King said.
“You need new faces in these positions. You need new people and new ideas. And maybe if we did, we wouldn't be the butt of all the jokes in the Mon Valley.”
In other action, the board passed a tentative 2014 budget with revenue and expenditures estimated at $1,197,440. The budget will be posted for public viewing at the township office.
Dull noted after the meeting it's the sixth year without a tax increase since he and Miller were elected to the board. Yusko abstained from that vote.
“I want to get a hold of the figures until the end of the year, and I may open this budget up next year,” Yusko said.
Dull said Light Up Night will be 6 p.m. Nov. 22 at the fire hall.
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.