Burrell Township supervisors get new chairman, 3-percent pay hike

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

John Shields is taking over as chairman of Burrell Township's board of supervisors for the coming year.

At its annual reorganization meeting on Monday the three-member board named Shields to the leadership role he's held once before. Longtime supervisor Tony Distefano has most often served as chairman over the past decade including in 2012.

Supervisor Larry Henry was named vice chairman and Helen Olechovski Hill was retained as the township's secretary-treasurer with a treasurer's bond set at $300,000.

All three supervisors will continue to serve as township roadmasters.

Usually taking a cue from the township auditors' decision regarding their wages as roadmasters, the supervisors deferred action on possible pay increases for township employees until the supervisors' first regular meeting of the year.

As in 2012, the supervisors will continue to hold their regular meetings at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

In addition to Hill and the roadmasters, the township work force currently includes two full-time road crew members and a seasonal employee. Shields said the supervisors have yet to decide how they will structure and fill the position of township ordinance enforcement officer, one of the multiple roles that were handled by late township employee Chuck Lydic.

At its reorganization meeting on Tuesday, the township board of auditors approved a 3-percent wage hike for each of the roadmasters, up from $16.50 per hour, effective retroactively to Jan. 1.

The auditors ruled that the roadmasters should continue to have 21 vacation or personal days and 15 paid holidays per year.

Gilbert Woodley, re-elected chairman of the auditors, noted there had been a suggestion of adding Flag Day as an additional paid holiday. He said the extra holiday might be considered again in the future but recommended against it for now.

Cindy Weaver, vice chair of the auditors, and Jennifer Henry, secretary of the panel, concurred.

The auditors approved a $5 increase, to $20, in a monthly allowance the roadmasters receive for using their personal cell phones for township business. The allowance was initiated on a trial basis last year rather than having the roadmasters use phones provided by the township.

Woodley indicated the average cell phone plan costs about $60 per month and about a third of the calls on the roadmasters' phones are for township matters.

The auditors agreed to meet at 10:15 a.m Saturday to begin their audit of the township's 2012 books. The completed audit must be submitted to the state Department of Community and Economic Development by April 1.

Woodley noted Hill provided valuable assistance to the three-member board of auditors as it performed its first township audit last year, a task that previously was handled by a certified public accountant. Woodley said he also gained helpful auditing tips by attending a seminar with the support of the supervisors.

Reviewing the township's working budget for 2013, Woodley observed, “Our township is doing better than in a long time.”

Township officials noted they entered the new year with more than $300,000 carried over from the 2012 budget, a larger amount than had been expected. The amount was bolstered by local service tax receipts obtained by collector Berkheimer Associates.

In other township reorganization business, the supervisors approved Bryan Palmer as chief of the Black Lick Fire Company and made the following reappointments: Floyd Hilty, vacancy board chairman; William Shulick, township solicitor; Jim Garvin, township engineer; Gibson-Thomas Engineering, township bridge engineer; Berkheimer Associates, collector of earned income taxes as well as local service taxes.

Hill will continue to represent the township on a countywide earned income tax committee with Shields serving as an alternate delegate.

Pat Ihli, Mark Schaeffer and Clara Santus were reappointed to the Burrell Township Sewer Authority board.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or jhimler@tribweb.com.

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