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Ross commissioners not unanimous in reappointment of township solicitor

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Ross Township Solicitor Bonnie Brimmeier was reappointed in a 5-4 vote at the commissioners' reorganization meeting.

Commissioners Grace Stanko, Lana Mazur, David Mikec, Grant Montgomery and Paul Trilli voted Jan. 6 to reappoint Brimmeier. Commissioners Daniel DeMarco, John Sponcer, Steve Korbel and Jeremy Shaffer voted against the reappointment.

DeMarco and Korbel expressed concern with the solicitor's involvement in politics and in the recent appointment of Trilli, who was selected to fill the 7th Ward seat after Gerald O'Brien stepped down to serve as township tax collector.

At the meeting, DeMarco accused Brimmeier of calling some council members before the vote and making disparaging comments about Trilli's opponent, Pat Mullin.

“It disappoints me greatly that the solicitor was involving herself in politics,” DeMarco said.

He said that he would have supported her reappointment were it not for her involvement in that issue.

“It's just not true (that she was meddling in politics),” Brimmeier said. She said she speaks with commissioners about all township appointments. “It's part of my role as their counselor,” she said.

“We, traditionally, unless we're having issues, reappoint the solicitor,” Mikec said. “She's doing a good job.”

The township pays Brimmeier $95 an hour for her services.

Two new commissioners and two recently re-elected incumbents were sworn in during the meeting.

Korbel and Shaffer were elected in November as the 2nd Ward and 8th Ward commissioners, respectively. Mazur and Mikec, who were re-elected in November, serve the 4th and 6th wards, respectively.

North Hills High School senior Stanley Marciniak, 18, was sworn in as Ross' junior commissioner.

Montgomery was reappointed president of the commissioners in a 6-2 vote with Korbel abstaining and Sponcer and DeMarco dissenting. Mikec was reappointed as vice president in an 8-0 vote with Korbel abstaining. Commissioners unanimously voted to reappoint township manager Doug Sample.

Tax-office moved

O'Brien spoke at the regular commissioners' meeting that took place immediately after the reorganization meeting to complain about the recent relocation of the tax collector's remote office.

Last year, Jordan Tax Services set up a remote location in the Ross Township Community Center eight to 12 days a year so residents could make their tax payments.

The office was located in the Ross Township Municipal Center in 2013, but this year, it will be in the Evergreen Community Center in Evergreen Park, 3430 Evergreen Road.

An ordinance passed in February 2013 raised the tax collector's salary from $5,000 to $10,000 and specified that the incoming tax collector would not have a permanent office.

O'Brien said moving the temporary office to the park building makes it inconvenient for residents to pay their taxes and would “alienate the people.”

Township manager Doug Sample said the move was made because the park is more centrally located in the township and because space is tight at the municipal center.

Senior community

Commissioners unanimously approved a master plan and rezoning request for Mt. Nazareth Center at 285 Bellevue Road that was submitted by Tait Engineering Inc. on behalf of Presbyterian SeniorCare.

The land was rezoned from a single- and two-family residential district to multifamily.

Officials of Presbyterian SeniorCare, based in Oakmont, plan to convert the building, which the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth own and have used in a variety of ways over the years, into an independent-living facility for senior citizens with 42 suites, said Jim Pieffer, senior vice president of the senior-care agency.

Sister Janice Fulmer, executive director of The Community at Holy Family Manor, which is overseen by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, said she expects the property to be sold early this year to Presbyterian SeniorCare.

Sister Janice said the nine sisters currently living in the building will move to triplex that will be built on the campus in February. Their offices will be moved to a garage on the property, which is being remodeled.

“They are exciting changes but also a little sad,” Sister Janice said. “Some of us have lived here for 50 years or more.”

The order's preschool will remain in the Mt. Nazareth Center building.

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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