As a former commissioner pointed out in the BOC meeting last Wednesday, there is a lack of trust among the board members. I think actually the question of trust may be present in the community as well. Here are just some of the topics to consider:
The Covid Caper . . . the $326,000 of Covid relief money that came to the township last fall was spent without any input, knowledge or vote of the board. $138,000 of that was spent for rent of the ROMA building, an expense already in the 2020 budget. After this became public, three members of the board authorized taking $115,000 from the underfunded Fiscal Stability Fund to give to qualified businesses. Why not give these businesses $138,000 from the Relief Fund instead of padding the township coffers?
AWOL on Audits . . .although annual financial audits are required by Pennsylvania law, South Whitehall has not completed an audit in the last 10 years. Two commissioners asked in open session why the audits were not completed and got no answers. What is going on here?
When for Wehr’s Dam? . . . a 2016 referendum approved borrowing up to $600,000 for the repair of Wehr’s Dam, but an engineering study is as far as the initiative has gone in 5 years. Last year, a recently-resigned commissioner wondered aloud how the township “can get out from under this obligation.” In other words, how can the township thwart the will of the people? Is this sentiment the reason little progress has been made?
Comp Plan Canceled . . . the 2009 Comprehensive Plan called for the township to “assess the public’s view on farmland preservation and the use of taxpayer money to preserve more farms.” The vision in the plan also asked the township to “consider a municipal farmland preservation program through purchase of development rights.” Twelve years later, nothing . . . yes, absolutely nothing. Instead, the BOC reversed the tractor gears and adopted the Innovation Overlay District in 2014, a zoning revision that created the concentrated and controversial developments in the township today.
Labor Negotiations Loused Up . . . Some members of the board were denied the right to provide input and guidance before contract negotiations started, as well as the right to attend negotiations for monitoring purposes. Long-term and loyal Public Works employees rejected the administration’s demands and the first labor strike in over 30 years resulted.
Midnight Madness . . . And perhaps the most egregious of all offenses, South Whitehall has a now-sitting commissioner appointed without advertisement, without it being an agenda item, without public comment, occurring, at 11:45 pm, and as The Morning Call headline read on December 5, 2019 “Catcalling, lack of transparency, mistrust’: South Whitehall residents lash out at commissioners over appointment.” Hard to imagine anything worse?
Based on the above information, do you trust the current leadership of South Whitehall?