Philipsburg Boro manager McDonald resigns|
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By Tyler Kolesar Staff Writer
PHILIPSBURG - Philipsburg Borough Council accepted the resignation of Borough Manager Jan McDonald at last night's meeting for personnel issues, effective at the end of the month. However, some council members wanted the resignation to be effective immediately.
Council member Walt Chorle said he was "extremely disappointed" in McDonald writing a letter to The Progress regarding an internal borough affair. Chorle made a motion to accept his resignation effective last night, but the borough would continue to pay McDonald until the end of February. The motion was then seconded by Barb Gette. President Fred Grauch disagreed with McDonald finishing immediately.
"I personally don't see any reason to do that," said Grauch, who also stated that technically McDonald is retiring and not resigning. "I think that serving out until the end of the month would be beneficial for the borough, to let him continue his work while he's here."
Grauch said McDonald has offered his services on a part-time basis as the borough looks for a new manager, stating he thinks allowing McDonald to do so would be an asset to the borough.
"As long as Mr. McDonald is working, he's going to be held accountable for his actions," said Chorle.
Chorle said some of his actions were "very, very unfair," including drug testing one borough worker and not another worker.
"I don't want to hold him accountable," said Chorle. "I want to accept his resignation tonight and move on."
Gette said she agreed with Chorle.
"He decided to resign," said Gette. "It's time to move on. I am not interested in keeping him on as a consultant or a part-time (worker) ... This borough council is weak. And we have been weak for a long time because we have allowed Jan to do whatever he wanted to do without any accountability. It is time for Jan. At his pleasure, he resigned. Let's accept his resignation tonight, and have him out of here tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Pay him what we need to pay him, and we're done. It is time to move on. We have to do this as a council. We have to do it."
Gette again stressed how weak council has been, as no one has been taking accountability for the past three to four years she has been on council. The vote to accept McDonald's resignation immediately failed by a 4-2 vote. Voting for immediate resignation were Chorle and Gette, while Grauch, Mike Wilks, Sam Womer and Dave Dixon voted to allow McDonald to continue until the end of the month.
Grauch said he would like to review the ad for borough manager, which would be distributed to various local and state media outlets. Grauch said he would like to collect resumes for two months. Gette asked if they had the job description completed, to which Grauch showed the previous job description. Grauch said he felt the ad needed to be completed immediately while the job description "can be done at our leisure" since it would take the two months to even find candidates.
"It feels like to me we're putting the cart before the horse here," said Gette on sending out an ad before the actual job description is completed. "Don't you think that we should all go over this (borough manager's job description) and revise this before we run an ad?"
Grauch said since they're not actually interviewing for two months, there wouldn't be a problem with revising the job description in that amount of time. Gette said borough council is so ineffective and she would like to think they could review it in that amount of time, but isn't positive it will get done.
"We have serious issues here," said Gette. "We have employment issues, we have personnel issues. Did you ever think of an interim manager? To get us through the rough time right now?"
"I actually think that would be detrimental to us unless we brought Jan back on an as needed basis," said Grauch.
"Well that won't happen," said Gette.
Chorle agreed with Gette.
"It's called think and do," said Chorle. "Not do and think. You need to reflect on what's happened here. Major problems are happening here and I will tell you as a council (person), you're (Grauch) accountable. You're the leadership. Things aren't right here. And just running around and kicking the can down the road, looking for the next one, isn't going to work. You need to find out what went wrong with Jan McDonald and what we don't want in a borough manager. He's quitting for a reason. There are some problems that happened recently that are monumental."
Chorle said immediately looking for the next manager is "disgraceful and horrifying to the community."
"Very bad decision, Mr. President, but you're in charge," said Chorle. "And if you would like to do that, more power to you. I won't be supporting you."
A motion then passed by a 4-2 vote that allowed the borough to advertise for the position. Voting yes were Grauch, Wilks, Womer and Dixon. Voting no were Chorle and Gette.
In other news, citizen Betsy Ross asked Grauch and Wilks if they had heard if one of the borough workers was operating with an invalid state driver's license. Ross asked, if true, was this person fired like a previous worker was that had an invalid license. Grauch said he did not know of anyone who had been fired or of anyone who did not have a driver's license.
"You want to go on the record as saying there's no one that works here that did not have a license," Ross asked Grauch.
"I know as much as you do, so that's all I can tell you," said Grauch.
"That's true," said Ross.
Wilks also denied knowing of anyone having an invalid license.
Later in the meeting, Womer said he would like to see the borough hire Lee Gunter as a full-time employee.
However, council agreed that a borough manager should be in place before hiring anyone.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. at the borough building.