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Connellsville Township probes divestments in 2004-10 accounts |

Connellsville Township probes divestments in 2004-10 accounts

| Friday, July 9, 2010 12:00 a.m

Connellsville Township supervisors on Thursday agreed to hire independent legal council to investigate actions that “divested township money from any equipment or other property without the approval of the board of supervisors.”

The motion instructed the investigation to span between 2004 and May 2010.

Supervisors did not comment on why the action was being taken.

They tabled a motion that would have a pension appraiser determine the amount of money that should be contributed for the employment of Don Hann and Charles Basinger as roadmasters. Both are former supervisors.

Basinger lost his bid for re-election last year, and Hann resigned from the board in May after an hourlong executive session with solicitor Richard Bower. Following that meeting, Hann did not return, but Supervisor Richard Abodato read Hann’s resignation letter stating that he resigned for personal reasons.

Abodato said the motion involving the pension appraiser was tabled because supervisors needed legal clarification on the issue. Bower was absent from the meeting.

The face of the supervisory board has changed within the past several months. In the month prior to Hann’s resignation, Sally Stoots resigned her seat on the board for personal reasons. It was filled by Abodato.

In other business, supervisors hope to keep local government as local as possible, passing a resolution opposing any forced mergers and consolidations of local governments.

“Local municipal government has been more committed to pinching pennies and stretching tax dollars than any other form of government today,” said Abodato as he read the resolution. “No one has ever proven that bigger centralized government is more cost-effective or run more efficiently.”

The resolution was in response to House Bill 2431, recently introduced by state Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, which would make counties the basic level of local government in the state.

Under the proposed bill, municipalities would be allowed to exist only under the jurisdiction of the county that then would determine what type of duties they would perform. Counties would be tasked with all control of personnel, law enforcement, land use and zoning, sanitation and health and safety.

Local state Reps. Tim Mahoney, Peter Daley and Ted Harhai, all Democrats, have co-sponsored the bill.

In order for the idea to become a reality in the Pennsylvania Constitution, it faces a very difficult set of requirements. The joint resolution would have to be approved by a majority vote in the General Assembly in two successive sessions, such as 2009-10 and then 2011-12.

It does not require the governor’s signature, but if it would get this far, it would be voted on by the citizens in a referendum appearing on election ballots statewide.

In other business, Supervisor Tom Cesario asked residents to provide him with a history of the township for a new website sponsored by the township.

The website will have business-friendly areas, demographics for the township and other information for visitors.

It will include the local newspapers, radio stations and voting sites within the township, as well as a residential services page that will feature the leaf pickup schedule, recycling schedule and applications for building permits that can be printed off the website.

No one from the public showed up yesterday to comment on the Connellsville City, South Connellsville and Connellsville Township’s comprehensive plan during the public hearing scheduled prior to the supervisors’ regular meeting.

Mullen and Lonegren of Pittsburgh is assembling the plan, which numbers nearly 300 pages. The plan is funded by a $125,000 grant.

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