BURRELL: Township supervisors vote to take smaller raise
BLACK LICK — The Burrell Township board of supervisors voted Wednesday to have their pay raise for 2014 cut in half.
The supervisors voted to turn down a raise of 3 percent as set by the township’s board of auditors, and said they would accept 1.5 percent. They also voted to grant 1.5 percent raises for the township’s four full-time employees and one seasonal worker. The action on pay raises completed the order of business left unfinished at the annual reorganization session on Jan. 6. At that meeting, the supervisors tabled a decision on setting pay rates for employees.
As working supervisors — elected by the public as legislative officials, but hired by themselves as township road crew workers — the pay for their work as laborers is set by the board of auditors to avoid conflict of interest.
Before setting employee pay rates, the board waited for their own figures to be set by the auditors, who met Jan. 7.
“Our employees are so close to our wages, that if we gave them a raise and we didn’t get one, they would actually be making more than we do,” Supervisor Larry Shields said.
Before the supervisors decided on the amount of a pay raise to award, secretary Helen Olechovski said she learned the local cost-of-living increase for the year was 1.5 percent.
“I feel that there have been no cuts in benefits at a time when people are losing benefits or paying for benefits. And I feel that a 1.5 percent raise in addition to not losing any benefits would be fair to all parties,” said Supervisor Anthony Distefano, offering the motion. “I respectfully request the auditors to set our wages at $16.83 plus 1.5 percent cost of living, which would be $17.08, and to pass a 1.5 percent raise on to the regular and part-time employees.”
Supervisors Henry and John Shields made the vote unanimous.
In other business Wednesday, the supervisors reappointed Jane Kokolis to a three-year term on the Burrell Township Library board of directors, and permitted the library to conduct a benefit 5K race on June 21.
The library board would need additional approval from county recreation officials to use the Ghost Town Trail for part of the race route, Distefano said.
The supervisors also received notice from the Indiana County Department of Human Services of an annual census of homeless people in Indiana County. County officials asked the township to report any locations that they believe homeless people are staying.
The township office will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Feb. 19 for Presidents Day, the supervisors announced.
In other business during the reorganization session, the board elected Henry to serve as chairman and Shields to be vice chairman for the year, Henry was named chief executive officer, and Olechovski was retained as secretary and treasurer.
The supervisors appointed each other to serve as roadmasters, named Floyd Hilty to act as the vacancy board and retained Blairsville attorney William Shulick as solicitor.
James Garvin, of Blairsville, was retained for general engineering and Gibson-Thomas, of Latrobe, was retained for bridge engineering services.
They also authorized Olechovski and any of the supervisors to represent the township at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ convention,
The supervisors designated working hours for the road crew at 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and office hours at 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and continued the supervisors’ schedule of public meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.