City tells landlord to take criticism to higher officials City native, now foreign mayor, visits council
SHAMOKIN - A city landlord critical of Shamokin Housing Authority's chairman and executive director was advised by city officials to take his complaints to a higher authority.
Barry Getchey was told to take any alleged evidence of wrongdoing he may have and report it either to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the State Ethics Commission.
Getchey has been attending council meetings since at least February, asking each time for council to remove Raymond G. Splane from the housing authority board. He's also lodged complaints about Ron Miller, executive director.
The dispute among the three stems from tens of thousands of dollars in federal subsidy money being withheld from Getchey.
While Miller has said Getchey's property on North Sixth Street may not be safe and that Getchey booted an authority inspector from the building, the landlord himself was found not guilty of seven code violations.
A criminal case regarding bribery charges where Getchey is alleged to have offered Splane $300 to resolve the dispute remains pending.
At Monday's city council meeting, Getchey said Miller and Splane are "ruining this city" and asked council to dismiss Splane from the authority, a position to which he was appointed.
Councilman William Strausser said Getchey's allegations aren't enough cause for dismissal. Police Chief Ed Griffiths backed Strausser by saying the matter is civil.
"You're the only one making the complaints," said Mayor George Rozinskie Jr.
Getchey held firm, saying council appointed him and should take that privilege away.
H. Robert Mattis, city solicitor, said while the evidence is not enough for Splane's removal, he advised Getchey to report the matter to HUD. If he returns with actual findings of wrongdoing, dismissal could be a possibility.
All city retirees will receive a letter in the coming days outlining changes to the city's life insurance policy.
The payout for all employees upon death is $10,000, regardless of the position from which they retire.
Employees can choose to pay the approximate $6.80 monthly premium or go without the insurance altogether, Strausser said.
The new plan should be a bargain to retirees, he said.
Under the old plan, the average premium topped $22, said Steve Bartos, city clerk.
Council voted in September to switch life insurance providers from Standard to Hartford.
Bartos said the change was made after an employee had passed and the family attempted to collect on the policy. They were expecting $30,000 but received $10,000.
He said the lower-than-expected payout was correct but that communication regarding the payout was botched.
Any employee with questions on the new plan is encouraged to speak with Michelle Quinn at city hall.
City council also voted to:
- Pay Rob's Roofing $11,926, which submitted the lowest of three quotes, to fix a roof leak at the American Legion Building. Bartos said a stairwell is being damaged in the building's southeast corner due to substantial leaking.
- Sell the city's skate park equipment to the city of Sunbury for $7,500. Sunbury officials indicated they can't make a one-time payment; rather, will put $625 down and make 11 monthly payments of $625. The equipment is more than a decade old and the park was closed for good earlier this year due to repeated vandalism.
- Extend an offer to all city employees to join its new cell phone plan with Verizon Wireless, which includes a 18-percent discount. Employees must agree to a weekly pay deduction in order to join the plan.
- Seek qualifications of contractors for proposed repairs to the channel of Shamokin Creek, which was severely damaged by flooding last September.
- Enter a contract with Baer/Wolfe Architects, of Sunbury, to perform an assessment of the American Legion Building. The contract, not to exceed $5,000, would provide the city with detailed drawings and information on the building to use toward seeking grant funding.
- Allow Northumberland County Human Services to arrange a water and sun safety course at the city's public pool later this summer. It was also announced rates at the swimming pool would not change this season.
- Appoint Susan Kopitsky to the housing authority for a term beginning July 1 and ending Jan. 4, 2016, replacing outgoing member Joseph Rocuskie; Margie Konopka to the Shamokin Library Board for a three-year term through May 15, 2015, and Lynnette S. Bartholomew to Shamokin Fire Police.
- Table discussion on the proposed transfer of a liquor license from Kulpmont to Shamokin for Terrance O'Shea for a business on East Independence Street.
- Permit American Legion Unit 73 to set up a Field of Flags from May 21 through Memorial Day on Lincoln Street and to sell poppies from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 16 in the city's downtown.
- Allow Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce to hold a duck race July 29.
- Consent to Northumberland County Tax Claims Bureau's sale of two properties from repository: 641 and 643 S. Seventh St. The properties were owned by William and Mary Yost and will be sold to Jeff Kroh for $500 each.
- Permit Phoenix Rehabilitation to hold its annual outdoor fall festival from 3 to 9 p.m. Sept. 19 in Mill Road Square.
- Dispose of two broken-down city vehicles - a Ford Bronco from the police department and Dodge Dakota from the code department - at Jeff's Recycling, Paxinos. The vehicles will be disposed of next month, allowing the city's emergency squad time to use them during training.
Councilman Michael Snyder announced the city's surplus of rock salt will be stored in a fenced area behind the city warehouse. He said the large leftover supply should be kept in mind when officials negotiate ahead of next winter for more of the material.
Strausser announced that Independence Hose Company agreed to forego a bi-monthly allotment of approximately $560 paid by the city. He added that the Shamokin Lions will fix damaged benches at the public pool.