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Four Ross commissioners leave meeting in dispute over filling vacancy

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 5:51 p.m.

An effort to fill an empty seat on the Ross Township Board of Commissioners failed when four commissioners walked out of the meeting Monday.

A 4-4 vote for applicants Pat Mullin, a retired truck driver, and Paul Trilli, Heinz Field/Aramark operations director, sparked a debate that drove commissioners Peter Ferraro, John Sponcer, Chris Rand Eyster and Daniel DeMarco to walk out of the meeting, preventing a quorum needed for the appointment.

A meeting of the vacancy board, which consists of the eight current commissioners and an appointed chairman, has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Ross Township Municipal Center, 1000 Ross Municipal Drive, to choose the ninth commissioner.

The seat was left open when 7th-Ward Commissioner Gerald O'Brien resigned last month after being elected township tax collector.

When the board split 4-4 on the appointment, Solicitor Bonnie Brimmeier said Tuesday, she suggested having vacancy board chairman George Tunney, who already was at the meeting, break the tie.

DeMarco argued that the vacancy board could not convene without first advertising the meeting to the public.

“You're not following the law,” DeMarco said before walking out of the meeting.

The newly appointed commissioner could be a deciding factor in passing a proposed ordinance next year that would phase out township-paid health insurance offered to commissioners. The ordinance failed Monday with a 4-4 tie.

Commissioners in favor of the ordinance — Ferraro, DeMarco, Eyster and Sponcer voted for Mullin, who said in his interview that he would vote to phase out the health insurance for commissioners.

Commissioners opposed to the ordinance — Lana Mazur, Grant Montgomery, David Mikec and Grace Stanko voted for Trilli, who said would vote against phasing out the insurance.

“This isn't how I wanted to go,” Ferraro said before walking out of his last commissioners meeting.Ferraro, whose term is expiring, will be replaced by the newly elected Jeremy Shaffer.

Eyster, whose term also is expiring, will be replaced by the newly elected Stephen Korbel.

Both Korbel and Shaffer, who were at the meeting Monday, said they don't plan to use the township-paid insurance.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or kshea@tribweb.com.

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