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Two lawyers hired to handle employment hearing for ex-chief

Published December 16. 2009 05:00PM

Rush Township supervisors on Tuesday hired two Luzerne County attorneys at $125 an hour each to handle an employment hearing for former Police Chief Robert J. Romanick.

On a 2-1 vote, with Supervisor William Sanchez Jr. opposing, supervisors hired attorneys James Scallion as a hearing officer and George Hludzik as prosecuting attorney. Both have their practices in Drums.

After the meeting, Supervisor Chairman Steve Simchak said township officials were waiting to hear back from Romanick before scheduling the hearing.

Romanick, of Mahanoy City, sued in Schuylkill County Court on Feb. 12 to force the township to hold the hearing to disclose the reasons for his dismissal on Jan. 5, four years after he was named chief. According to the suit, township supervisors first asked Romanick to take a demotion to patrolman, dismissing him when he refused.

The case was assigned to Judge John E. Domalakes who scheduled arguments on Nov. 12. However, the session was postponed when supervisors agreed at the 11th hour to hold a hearing.

Domalakes directed the supervisors to provide Romanick with a statement of charges on or before Dec. 20, and to hold a hearing within 30 days following the issuance of the statement.

Romanick is currently working as a patrolman in Mahanoy City.

Later in the meeting, Sanchez moved to reinstate Romanick with back pay. His motion died for lack of support.

Also on Thursday, Simchak moved to rescind a Nov. 17 decision cut secretary/treasurer Terri Conville and road foreman Gene Rutch's full-time status to part-time without benefits. That action, by a 2-1 vote with Simchak opposed, was to save money, Sanchez said at the time.

After a brief executive session Tuesday, Sanchez supported Simchak's motion to rescind the decision and restore Conville and Rutch to full-time with benefits. Supervisor Shawn Gilbert opposed.

In other matters Tuesday, supervisors failed to adopt a 2010 budget after neither Gilbert nor Sanchez supported Simchak's motion. Supervisors plan to schedule a special meeting to further discuss the proposed $2 million spending plan before the Dec. 31 deadline to adopt a budget.

Under the current proposed plan, the property tax rate would stay the same, at 4.12 mills, next year. That means the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would continue to pay $412 in property tax.

Each mill generates $107,834.48 for the township. Of of the current millage rate, 3.21 mills is for the general fund; .5 mills is for the building fund; .41 mills is for fire protection.

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