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Officials deadlocked over decision to hire fulltime road crew workers

Published May 15. 2012 05:01PM

After accepting nearly $300,000 in bids for road repairs and general maintenance at Monday evening's West Penn Township Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors had to kill a motion to hire fulltime road crew workers because they were deadlocked in their decision, and no third person was there to moderate the situation.

The board was unbalanced. Normally, three supervisors serve on it, an odd number to prevent ties and deadlocks in the voting process, but Vice Chairman James Akins has been consistently absent for the monthly meetings. Of the last seven, including the inter-municipal one with Walker Township that he missed concerning the next phases of the multimillion dollar Act 537 sewer project, he has been present for two and gave no reason for his absences.

Although a third person does not mean that a motion will automatically be passed, having that person serves like a split decision in a boxing match, lending fairness where needed. A two-person board cannot pay the amount of attention that each motion deserves in order for it to be fairly appraised.

Township resident Bill Leiby suggested having an alternative supervisor appointed to cover Akins' absence, but Martinez said that is not possible.

Without the option for a third person to second a motion and cast a vote, a motion can go nowhere and die without being voted on, as it did here. Chairman Alfonso Martinez made a motion to hire more workers, but Supervisor James G. Dean did not want to second his motion. Without a full board participating in the regular decision-making process that's needed to properly legislate, it is inhibited, duties left unfulfilled, and the only ones affected by it are the township and its residents.

Not hiring more road crew workers may not be a decision pertinent to for sustaining the township's well being, but that does not mean more conflicts won't arise in the future from this issue that will affect it.

Next board of supervisors meeting is on Monday, Jun. 4 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.

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