Kerber ousted as roadmaster in Sewickley Township
Sewickley Township created two new positions, axing a full-time roadmaster position in the process.
A part-time public works director position was created at the annual reorganization meeting Monday as well as a township coordinator position, while residents attending the meeting said they preferred an “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” approach.
Supervisor Wanda Layman was approved with a 2-1 vote as the new township coordinator, which was described as someone to manage the township personnel and coordinate day-to-day operation and business.
Kerber cast the dissenting vote.
Kerber said he was unaware of the newly created position until a few hours before the meeting.
“This was a position those two [Layman and Supervisor Alan Fossi] put on here,” he said. “I did not know anything about it until today.”
As roadmaster, Kerber oversaw seven road crew workers and the 70 miles of township roads, which will now fall under the part-time position of a public works director.
Kerber will remain as supervisor through his elected term, which ends in December.
Residents who commented at the meeting said they felt Kerber was doing a good job and cutting the position to part-time might be detrimental to the condition of Sewickley Township's roads.
“You're going to cost us more in the long run,” said Jeff Thoma of Herminie. “If you do not have a supervisor on that job, you're not going to get it done effectively.”
Linda Coffer of Lowber said the new director will need to know the township roads well to do the best job.
She echoed the sentiment of a few others in attendance when she said she was frustrated she had cast a vote for Layman and Fossi.
“We trusted you when we voted you in, sometimes that's the problem,” Coffer said.
Fossi told the residents they were trying to keep the best interest of the township in mind to improve services and save money.
“Nobody ever told me this was an easy position and I didn't expect that,” he said.
Kerber said he does not believe a part-time position can effectively handle the work maintaining the roads.
“I can't see how being, if they're out on the road and they need a managerial decision made, how they're going to call somebody back who's part-time back out for something when you should already be there in my opinion,” he said.
According to Kerber's last paycheck, he was receiving a $52,400 salary plus benefits after his two years in the roadmaster position, Layman said.
“By doing these trade-offs, by hiring a part-time public works director and part-time coordinator, taking the salary that we have for roadmaster, that will be approximately a savings of $20,000 per year,” she said, adding that the new public works director will have a similar job description as the roadmaster.
With another 2-1 vote, supervisors recommended Layman's compensation at $12 per hour to the board of auditors, which was to consider approval on Tuesday, for between 20 and 25 hours per week.
Supervisors said they discussed the votes with their solicitor, Dan Hewitt, and a vote including Layman's was legal on the matters concerning appointing her to the part-time position.
Hewitt, who was not at the meeting, could not be reached for comment Monday.
A part-time clerk position, which was approved for advertisement in November and is not yet filled, was budgeted separately from the coordinator and public works director positions, Layman said.
After 21 years with Westmoreland County, Layman said she retired Dec. 26 from the director of information referral's office.
Supervisors can be appointed to most paid positions within the township, with exception of manager and a few others.
“We felt that there should be someone in the office to be able to meet and talk with whomever concerning township business to pass on to township supervisors,” Layman said.
Fossi was voted to take over as chairman of the supervisors board, a position previously held by Layman.
Kerber, 59, said he will continue to work as roadmaster for the next few weeks until the new public works director is chosen, then he plans to earn a living from his 50-acre dairy farm plus additional acreage that is leased.
“Actually, I think there were a couple job offers out there today,” he said.
In other business, full-time employees Secretary-Treasurer Susan Leukhardt and Office Manager Paula Alcott as well as part-time employee Ordinance Officer Dean Zimmerman all received a $1 raise with supervisors approval.
Leukhardt will now be paid $14.75 an hour; Alcott $13.75 and Zimmerman $11.
Supervisors also approved a 50-cents raise for full-time employee Recreation Director Janet Schork to $11.50 per hour after a similar 50-cents raise in July.
Jared Filapose was appointed to the vacancy board by a 2-1 vote with Kerber dissenting after his nomination of George Thomas Lord died for lack of a second.
With a 2-1 vote, Michael Ulyan was appointed to the zoning board for a five-year term with Kerber opposed.
Sewage tap-in for Crabapple Park and Pool was also approved by the supervisors to Dave Poole of South Huntingdon for $8,450, after his was the only quote received for the work.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.