Press "Enter" to skip to content

Northwest Berks resident accuses township supervisors of improprieties

The Bethel Township supervisors sparred with a resident who accused board members of violating the Sunshine Act, misusing board powers for personal gain and unlawfully claiming township employee benefits.

At Thursday’s meeting, resident Lisa Hassler said actions taken at the board’s recent meetings were not published in the agenda and were made without public discussion or the opportunity for resident input.

She said those actions amounted to a violation of the Sunshine Act, which requires official actions to be taken in a meeting that the public has received prior notice of, and in which the public can participate and comment before the action is taken.

Hassler said the violating board actions included hiring a new solicitor — replacing Steven Price with Elizabeth Magovern of Hartman, Valeriano, Magovern & Lutz, Wyomissing — and restricting public comments to specified times before and after meeting business.

Magovern said the agenda published for the board’s annual reorganization meeting was meant to include a worksheet and other information that was not published at the time.

She said the board would correct the mistake by voting again on the previously unlisted action items, which were published in the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.

“Any issues or violations that occurred based on that agenda not being specific enough will be cured tonight,” Magovern said.

In addition, Hassler accused supervisors Chairman Robbi Lane of violating the supervisors’ code of ethics by voting to appoint friend and fellow Supervisor Mike Graby as township road master, and by receiving employee benefits such as paid time off, paid holidays and other full-time employee benefits despite working less than 40 hours per week since 2020.

Lane is employed as secretary of the township’s police department.

“Robbi stole benefits from the township and should be made to repay taxpayers for this crime,” Hassler said.

Magovern said she had spoken to the state ethics commission and found that because Lane was approved by the township board of auditors as a full-time employee last year there was no violation and Lane does not have to pay back any benefits.

Also at the meeting, supervisors reviewed recommendations by the township auditors about the township’s methods of tracking employee activities and equipment use.

Those recommendations include using time clocks and having set hours for employees; having overtime approved by auditors; keeping accurate daily records of work done by the road crew; having payroll done by the township secretary; forming a committee to rewrite the township personnel policy; using purchase orders; and keeping logbooks for township vehicles.

Graby said the township already started keeping logbooks for vehicles.

Lane said the township plans to start using purchase orders for the road crew, and the solicitor is looking into whether the township would need to have auditors approve overtime.

She said payroll will be staying as is — which Lane said is handled by herself, the township secretary and Larry Rabold, a Myerstown accountant — and that the board will begin reviewing personnel policy.

Magovern noted any changes to personnel policy related to compensation or benefits would have to be approved by township auditors.

“That’s what we have discussed for now. Everything else will be at a later date,” Lane said of the auditor recommendations.

The recommendations follow a recent controversy involving the unauthorized rental of a payloader in June.

Supervisors stated previously that they do not know who authorized renting the payloader, which was leased for $23,120 from Plasterer Equipment Co. Inc., Lebanon.


Source: Berkshire mont

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: