Last night at the Board of Trustees meeting we saw evidence that Supervisor Gonser’s role has been reduced to one of backbencher. Two years ago he took office with a newly elected (with the exception of the re-elected Mike Baily & former Trustee Sharon McKay) Board who voted in lock step with him. Last night, in every vote that was in any way controversial, the Board voted 5 to 1 against him.
During the meeting, the Supervisor announced the resignation of Trustee Maureen Thalmann who had continued to side with Gonser on many votes in the past. Several personal and family illness reasons for her resignation were offered. It should be mentioned that one month ago she was named as one of the subjects of an investigation into the sharing of confidential, attorney-client privileged documents with un-authorized persons.
For Gonser, it was all downhill from there. Prior to most of the votes, he spoke his opinion emphatically, even passionately to no avail. No-one supported him. From my point of view it seemed that most of the disagreements were not substantial but rather manufactured by either Gonser or one of the Board to insure a 5-1 split.
Here are the highlights:
- The resignation of Trustee Thalmann was accepted unanimously;
- A proposed change to the rules of order to require a Request for Action Summary sheet for any agenda item was rejected 5 to 1 against with board members arguing that it was an unnecessary restriction and the Supervisor arguing that it would improve communication and order in their meetings;
- A request to appoint a subcommittee to review the Zoning Ordinance to determine if changes are necessary to bring it into compliance with changes to State Law was argued at length. Mr. Gonser wanted to have the study pertain to the zoning ordinance that is currently effect in effect which was written in 1976. He wanted to ignore the proposed updated zoning ordinance that was prepared by the Planning Commission and submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval in 2010 but has never been acted upon. Mr. Gonser pointed out that the proposed ordinance was vehemently opposed by himself and some others who were elected to the Board in 2012. The Township Attorney informed Supervisor Gonser that State law requires that the Planning Commission has the sole responsibility to propose changes to the Zoning Ordinance and the Board must, at this time, direct their study and comments to the 2010 proposed version submitted by the Planning Commission. During the ensuing half hour Gonser repeatedly argued that State Law could be ignored and was repeatedly corrected by the attorney. A modified plan to have the Township Attorney and the Township Planner do the study was approved 5 to 1 with Gonser voting No.
- A request to raise the wages of paid-on-call firefighters and EMS was approved unanimously.
- A request to pay monthly incentive bonuses of $50 or $100 to paid-on-call Fire Dept. employees when they responded to more than 20% or 40% of calls respectively was argued at length. Trustee Buxar proposed that the incentives be adopted for a 5 month trial period so that it could be reviewed and perhaps adjusted to improve its effectiveness. The motion was passed 5-1 with Gonser objecting only to the trial period feature.
- The Board addressed the results of the investigation into accusations that made during a previous Board meeting that one or more Board members and/or Parks Commissioners shared privileged attorney-client and closed session meeting documents with unauthorized persons. The Board approved the scheduling of a meeting with the Parks Commission to jointly respond to the attorneys’ findings. The vote was 5-1 with Gonser objecting. Note: When the accusations were made at a previous Trustees meeting Supervisor Gonser was mentioned as a person who may have improperly received one or more of the documents in question.
This meeting solidifies an important, positive change in the leadership of our Board of Trustees. Also very important is that the new vacancy on the Board is an opportunity for citizens to come forward and offer to serve the community.