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Brackenridge mayor to oversee public works department

| Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

Council has granted Mayor Tom Kish authority to supervise and oversee the public works department.

Council members Bob Kemmery, Timothy Kolar, Timothy Connelly and council President Charlene Stobert voted to approve the move in a 4-2 vote. William Beale and Mary Lou Poli voted against the change.

Poli said she checked with the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association and was told that it was illegal.

However, Craig Alexander, the newly appointed solicitor, told council that the move is legal.

"Why would we want to do that?" said Poli. "Why would we take powers from council and to give to the mayor?"

Stobert said the change doesn't reduce councils power but provides more supervision to the street department.

Connelly is the chairman of council's streets committee.

"One of the reasons is that Tim works and he's not around," Stobert said.

But Beale, who was the streets committee chairman until Stobert replaced him last month, said it doesn't matter who is committee chairman because all councilman are equal in power.

He said in the past, instructions for street department employees were passed from the streets committee through Borough Secretary Denise Tocco to department employees.

Beale argued that if Kish and other council members were permitted to give orders to the street department, it would result in orders being countermanded if someone didn't agree or didn't like them.

"It might end up in a liability situation," Beale said.

He said that should be a concern for council since the street department workers' contract will be expiring soon.

"It is not putting Tom in charge," Connelly said.

"I don't want to be in charge," Kish said, but added that now he isn't even permitted to talk to the workers.

Later, Stobert said that Tocco cannot leave the office to supervise the street crew.

"They don't have any supervision, " Stobert said.

Kish said some employees will come in an argue with Tocco over what they are supposed to be doing.

"It will take a lot of pressure off her," he said. "I not going to be here giving them orders every day."

Tocco did not speak about the issue.

"It's just a backup for these guys," Kish said, referring to the streets committee.

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