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Connellsville Township shuts down its business operations

| Saturday, March 19, 2005

Connellsville Township has shut down its business operations and temporarily laid off its employees.

Supervisor Fred Robbins said Friday that the township does not have enough money in its fund balance to pay its employees or its upcoming bills, so its workers were sent home on Tuesday.

The township has two full-time road workers, a secretary and a roadmaster, who is Supervisor Don Hann.

"I didn't like to see them laid off. I wish it didn't have to occur, but we have no money yet. When you don't have the money, you have to do something," Robbins said.

Secretary Evelyn Kuhns said, "I'm not being paid, but I'm still working. Someone has to answer the phones and collect the mail."

Two factors have contributed to the lack of money: missing funds and a lack of property tax receipts. Tax bills were sent out earlier in the month.

Robbins expects tax money to start arriving in the coming weeks, but "I've talked to people who said they weren't going to hurry and pay."

As for the missing money, Robbins said that the case is in District Attorney Nancy Vernon's hands.

Salaries account for the largest portion of the township's budget.

Auditor Chairwoman Marlene Grenell told supervisors at their March meeting that the township spent $122,690 on salaries in 2004. The township took in $335,269 and spent $362,493 last year.

"Everybody fails to remember we're missing funds," Robbins said. "We can't locate all our funds."

Robbins isn't sure what will happen if an unexpected snowstorm hits and road workers are needed.

"I hope it stays nice," he said.

This is not the first time Connellsville Township has temporarily laid off workers.

Robbins said the township experienced a similar lack of tax income "eight or 10 years ago."

He anticipates that the township will have the money to bring the employees back next week or the first week of April at the latest.

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