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Penn Forest auditor questions board

  • Township Auditor, Matthew Schutter addressing the Penn Forest Board of Supervisors at Tuesday evenings meeting. Schutter says "He is looking for answers."
    Township Auditor, Matthew Schutter addressing the Penn Forest Board of Supervisors at Tuesday evenings meeting. Schutter says "He is looking for answers."
Published February 05. 2014 12:28PM

Prior to Monday evenings board of supervisor's meeting, Penn Forest Township's newly elected auditor, Matthew Schutter, held a brief news conference.

Schutter, a Libertarian, was elected to a six-year term in November.

In his news conference and again during public comment, Schutter made accusations against the supervisors and township staff. "Where is the missing $1.6 million dollars," asked Schutter. "And what was in the documents that the township had shredded in 2013." Schutter also asked to be permitted to attend the executive session because he "had an issue" with one of the township employees. The supervisors made no comment in response to the issues raised by Schutter.

One person who refused to give a name confided that Schutter has come into the township building and harassed the employees. Further that Schutter has been demanding to be included in the finalization of the 2012 audit being completed by the township.

Article IX, Section 901(a) of the Second Class Township Code states in part that, "The board of auditors shall audit, settle and adjust the accounts for all elected or appointed officials of the township and its boards or agencies that received or disbursed funds of or owing to the township during the immediately preceding calendar year."

During his press conference Schutter noted that there were two state police officers in attendance.

"This is the township wasting taxpayer money," Schutter said.

Sgt. Joseph Rocho, of the state police Fern Ridge barracks, and Cpl. Michael Borash, of the Lehighton barracks, were in attendance to provide the supervisors with the January state police activity report for the township.

According to Rocho, 148 calls were reported in January:

• 8 assaults

• 11 domestic calls

• 3 burglary calls

• 16 traffic accidents

• 5 DUI arrests

• 57 traffic citations

Following the executive session, Supervisor Scott Lignore made a motion to remove Supervisor Judy Knappenburger as a representative to the labor union. That motion passed with only Knappenburger voting no.

"I just want to take this opportunity to clarify that Mrs. Knappenburger was removed, not because of any ethics issue, but since there are employees with the same last name, we wanted to avoid any possible concerns about impropriety," explained township solicitor Thomas Nanovic.

Greg Pavlik, of Barry Isett & Associates, addressed the supervisors on the park project.

"In spite of the weather the contractor has started to install the pipes and basin construction has started," Pavlik said.

Chairman Warren Reiner clarified also that the "silt fence" had recently been fortified due to the fact that the earlier fencing was not holding up under the heavy rains last month.

The supervisors also conditionally approved the release of $90,000 from the Rolling Truck Account to Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Company No. 2. The final release is awaiting Nanovic's review of the purchase agreement.

Supervisor Christine Fazio made a motion to appoint Robert Boyle to the vacant auditor position.

The supervisors also took into consideration a request from Charles W. Getz to have his property added to the Penn Forest Township Agricultural Security Area. Getz's property is located entirely within the borders of Kidder Township. Kidder does not have an ASA.

"While this seems unusual, it is not," explained Nanovic. "There are provisions within the act to allow property outside of the township to be included."

Since there can be a considerable amount of legal costs associated with the request and no actual benefit to Penn Forest Township, Nanovic suggested that he speak further with Getz's attorney and determine if Getz and Kidder Township could assume all the costs associated with the request.

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