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North Hills towns feud over authority control, money

| Monday, July 7, 2014, 9:57 p.m.

Two former members of a development authority board intended to direct money to North Hills towns say they and others resigned because of McCandless' attempted takeover of the board and its money — a board that will be reorganized on Tuesday with members who all are from McCandless.

The former members of the McCandless Industrial Development Authority, Alan Cech of Franklin Park and Jason Bragunier of Marshall, have expressed concerns about the distribution of tens of thousands of dollars the authority collects to issue bonds for other entities. The money is supposed to be used for charitable projects in Pine, McCandless, Bradford Woods, Franklin Park and Marshall.

Cech said he and three other members of the five-member board resigned in April in protest of what he said were McCandless' attempts to control the board. Only board Vice Chairman Roger Krey, a McCandless councilman, remained. The McCandless council appointed four MIDA board members last month.

“I really thought how this whole thing was handled, was handled very poorly,” Cech said.

No money has been handed out since the board changed composition. A reorganization meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

No decision has been made on how the industrial authority's funds will be spent, Krey said. Krey said he thought the money should be used “for regional assets,” but he wouldn't specify how he thought it should be used. “I'm not going to get into that discussion,” he said.

“It's a decision of the MIDA board, but I believe that it should be used for a regional asset — and that doesn't just mean McCandless. That means the North Allegheny School District area,” he said.

Cech claims Krey pressured the resignations by saying Cech and Bragunier, a Marshall supervisor, were not officially appointed by the McCandless council and telling them that council could remove all members without cause.

Krey said he and the MIDA board differed on how the fees that the agency collects should be spent, but denied that he said McCandless never officially appointed Cech and Bragunier.

“I absolutely did not say that. … I didn't say anything that would have made them resign,” Krey said.

John Murtagh Jr. and Thomas Mohr resigned from the board in April. Murtagh declined to comment; Mohr did not return a call.

McCandless council has authority to appoint all members of the board, whose membership can consist of appointees from the other towns. Those from other towns are nominated by the towns, McCandless Manager Toby Cordek said.

Founded in 1969, the McCandless Industrial Development Authority helps businesses and nonprofits secure up to $10 million annually in low-interest financing for projects.

For serving as a bond-issuing conduit for borrowers, such as La Roche College and Robert Morris University, MIDA collects fees that it uses to benefit community groups and individuals, such as $4,000 in college scholarships for North Allegheny School District graduates and $1,000 to North Hills Community Outreach, a Hampton nonprofit, last year.

“Over the last several years, thanks to good money management, MIDA's income has exceeded its expenses and, as of March 31, 2014, had $162,562.11 in funds,” Bragunier wrote in a May 5 report to the Marshall Board of Supervisors. He declined additional comment.

The new board members are McCandless council members Gerard Aufman Jr., Cynthia Potter and William McKim, and McCandless resident Donald Rea, a member of the McCandless Personnel Board.

Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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