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Sewickley Township adds 2 positions, cuts road master job

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Sewickley Township supervisors on Monday established two positions, axing a full-time roadmaster post in the process.

A part-time public works director position was added during the annual reorganization meeting on Monday as well as a township coordinator position, while residents attending the meeting said they were opposed.

Supervisor Wanda Layman was approved with a 2-1 vote as the new township coordinator, who will manage township personnel and coordinate day-to-day operation and business.

Joe Kerber, who cast the dissenting vote, said he was unaware of the new 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.

“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 he and Layman 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 employee can effectively handle the responsibilities.

“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 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 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 on 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 retired on Dec. 26 from the director of information referral's office.

Supervisors can be appointed to most paid positions within the township, with the 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 elected 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.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at sfederoff@tribweb.com or 724-836-6660.

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