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Mayor refuses to break tie for appointment to authority

Published January 26. 2010 05:00PM

Lansford Mayor Ron Hood has opted out of casting the deciding vote to break borough council's tie on whether to appoint Chris Ondrus to a vacant seat on the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority because, as mayor, he oversees the police department, where Ondrus works as a patrolman, borough secretary/treasurer Nicole Tessitore said Monday.

Council expects to take up the matter again when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10.

Council on Jan. 19 chose from among nine candidates to replace Frank Horvath for a five-year term on the authority. But the vote ended in a 3-3 tie when council President Bob Gaughan announced he would not vote.

Ondrus was nominated by Councilman Tommy Vadyak, whose motion was supported by Councilmen Lenny Kovach and Adam Webber. Mary Kruczek, Danielle Smith and Robert Hackash voted against Ondrus' appointment.

Kruczek had nominated Charles Whitehead, but that proposal died for lack of support.

Hood had five days to make a decision.

The appointment comes at a time when the water authority is under criticism for what some believe are excessive salary/benefit packages. The water authority officers, who contend they are also employees, set their own remuneration.

Public water authority records list the board chairman as making $15,000 a year; the vice chairman/superintendent $47,000; the treasurer $8,000; the secretary $8,000 and the assistant secretary/treasurer $6,800. In addition, the chairman receives a $2,250 annual stipend; and the vice chairman, treasurer, secretary and assistant secretary-treasurer each receive an annual $2,150 stipend. All employees, including the officers, who define themselves as full-time employees, are eligible for medical benefits.

Lansford appoints three authority members and Coaldale appoints two. Both councils expect to meet soon to discuss the salary issue.

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