Supervisors Chide Auditors for Sunshine Law Violation
By: Bessy Gurian Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, May 19, 2016
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP-It was listed under the workshop heading as “Township Auditors” during the Delaware Township workshop and meeting Wednesday, May 11. What no one suspected was the “unintentional violation of the Sunshine Law” Township Supervisor and Chair Jeffrey Scheetz would use to describe the actions of the elected auditors.
According to Scheetz, the elected auditors held an executive session in February without notifying the public. Township Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Krista Predmore said elected auditors submitted a schedule of their February meeting as the third Saturday of the month, but held an executive session the Saturday prior, which was not announced to the public. Township Solicitor Thomas Farley stated the township would be informing the elected auditors of the violation in a formal letter addressing the issue.
Immediately following the township meeting, Scheetz sat down with the Dispatch to discuss concerns surrounding the actions of the elected auditors, the first of which is whether elected auditors are going beyond the scope of their duties.
“We’re not saying they’re not doing their job,” Scheetz said. “They’re doing more than their job, or they would perhaps, like to do more than what the law says they should be doing or can do.”
Supervisor concerns also involve taxpayer pockets. “If they were having meetings or as part of their meetings discussing issues…that are not within their purview to do, we have to pay for that—we, the tax payers, and we don’t think that that’s right.” Scheetz referred to the $10 per hour compensation elected auditors receive when they hold a meeting.
Jane Neufeld, the only elected auditor present at the meeting who did not attend the workshop where the announcement was made, told the Dispatch that she had not heard what was discussed about the Sunshine Law and if the auditors might have violated it.
Neufeld and fellow elected auditors Dennis Lee and Cody Smith had held an executive meeting back in February to discuss the litigation outcome involving a pension dispute from 2006. This was an activity that according to supervisors is outside the scope of their duties.
Elected auditors also argue that Thomas Ryan, who serves as township treasurer, and Predmore are not bonded, according to legal stipulations. Neufeld estimates Ryan should be bonded for $3.5-$3.7 million, (currently at $2.5 million) and Predmore should be bonded for the same amount as Ryan (currently at $100K). According to Neufeld, “She (Predmore) is the one who is the most involved with getting financial things done. Township treasurers do a lot more than sign checks. Township treasurers do budgets….they reconcile, enter information in QuickBooks, they provide information to the independent auditors…Krista has done the bulk of the budgeting with either Tom (Ryan) or Jeff (Scheetz) inputting for the last couple of years.
“I took an oath, as did everybody else, to uphold the laws of the state of Pennsylvania and I ran on basically, what I believe is integrity and oversight as best allowed by law,” Neufeld said “…What we did? We found something that was not in compliance with the law and we followed the only thing we knew to do,” referring to a letter sent by the elected auditors to township supervisors addressing the bonding concerns.
Supervisor John Henderson brought up concerns regarding construction plans for Camp Akenac’s bath house and rec hall. Henderson commented on the ill-suited location of handicapped bathrooms, the emergency exit and stairs that have been built without being in compliance with OSHA or ADA. He added that he sent a letter to Boucher and James and their response “raised more questions than answers.” He added, “We owe it to the township to get our ducks in line in this building.” Farley
assured the public that before any construction takes place, the township will have to abide by the same building codes as any other resident.
Township supervisors also announced plans to file a lawsuit against Camp Gan Israel due to township code violations, ordinance violations, and violations cited by the Department of Environmental Protection. Gershon Sandler, representing Camp Gan Israel, asked to speak to those allegations, but was told by Farley that a letter had been sent to their lawyer addressing all the notices and violations and that he should abstain from comment until consulting with his attorney.
The meeting included a public Hearing for the approval of Ordinance 206, which provides a curbside recycling program that governs the collection, storage, transportation processing and disposal of municipal solid waste in the township. After no public comment was received on the ordinance it was approved by the supervisors.