TIOGA — Mayor David Wilcox left the borough council’s meeting on Tuesday, July 6, after an explosive claim.
“Since taking this position, I’ve discovered that over the last six years, large amounts of money have disappeared. I owe it to the taxpayers and residents of this borough to tell them,” said Wilcox, who was appointed mayor in April. “I will not cover it up.”
The meeting was adjourned following the statement, after which Wilcox left and council members said they had no further comment. Wilcox could not be reached for further explanation.
Other parts of Tuesday’s meeting were also met with contention, including a one-hour executive session in the middle. It’s not clear what was discussed between council, Wilcox and Borough Solicitor Jeffrey Loomis during the session.
After reconvening, Council member Marybess Hazlett made a motion to “look at the 2015 version of employee timesheets and use those going forward,” as well as having two members of council sign each payroll check from now on. The motion was carried with Steve Hazlett voting in opposition.
Related to personnel, council voted to hire Joan Stone as borough secretary after being without a full-time secretary for several months. Steve Hazlett made the motion to hire Joan Stone at $18 an hour, starting with two weeks’ vacation time, eight paid holidays, three sick days, three personal days and pension after two years. The position is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Voting “no” to the hire were Bill Preston and Bob Wertz.
Mayor Wilcox took issue with what he says was an improper way of notifying applicants that the position was filled. He said council members told Stone she was hired and told other applicants that the position was filled before council actually voted Tuesday night.
Steve said it’s customary that a three-person personnel committee reviews resumes for borough employee positions and makes a recommendation to council, which then must vote on whether to hire the applicant.
There was some confusion at first as to who is actually on the committee; current members are Steve Hazlett, Marybess Hazlett and Council President Doreen Burnside.
At first, Steve Hazlett said Wilcox was also on this committee, but then clarified that the meetings are advertised and open to the public, so Wilcox could have attended.
“They changed the committees so we could get the outcome they want,” said Preston.
He and fellow Councilmember LuAnn Wheeler said they were “removed” from the committee within the last few weeks.
“We’re not getting into that at a public meeting,” said Burnside, adding that Stone was hired in the same way past secretaries had been and that nothing was done “deceitfully.”
Council also voted in a new councilmember to replace Sharon Grosjean, who resigned in June. Brennan Wood will fill the position and run as a write-in candidate in the November election. Steve Hazlett voted “no” to the appointment.