Salary of part-time interim East Cocalico manager is questioned

By on February 22, 2017
East Cocalico Interim Manager Steve Gabriel (second from left) responds to a question during the Feb. 16 township supervisors meeting. Other officials are (from left) Lisa A. Kashner, recording secretary, and Supervisors Alan Fry, Douglas Mackley, and Noelle Fortna.

East Cocalico Interim Manager Steve Gabriel (second from left) responds to a question during the Feb. 16 township supervisors meeting. Other officials are (from left) Lisa A. Kashner, recording secretary, and Supervisors Alan Fry, Douglas Mackley, and Noelle Fortna.

Costs associated with the service of the interim township manager was a focus of the East Cocalico supervisors Feb. 16 meeting.

A few audience members questioned Steve Gabriel’s interim township manager position and his six-figure salary for a 20-hour work week.

Gabriel temporarily replaced Mark Hiester after Hiester resigned about 12 months ago. Hiester’s annual salary was about $90,000 for a 40-hour work week.

“You had asked about interim township manager costs,” said Gabriel, speaking to an audience member. “The bill that covered the last part of December, the township spent $123,399 on interim township manager services in 2016.”

“The first week you started was the third week in February in 2016,” said Jeff Mitchell, a resident of East Cocalico.

“Yes,” said Gabriel.

“So, that total is not is not for a full 12 months,” said Mitchell.

“Just a comment if I may, Mr. Chairman, it looks like the township is paying more for a temporary manager for 20 hours a week than what we were for a full-time employee.”

“This is old news, I don’t have a further comment,” said Supervisor Chairman Douglas Mackley.

Mitchell persisted.

“When do you see this changing, are there interviews coming for candidates?” asked Mitchell.

“We’ll be discussing it,” said Mackley. “We said we weren’t going to do it over the holidays and now the holidays have come and gone and there were some other irons in the fire.”

“About a $5,000 difference what we’re paying for an interim manager and a regular manager, the number is really, really close,” said Supervisor Noelle Fortna.

“If I may respond that the temporary manager is 20 hours a week and the full-time manager is 40 hours a week,” said Mitchell. “That’s only half the time and you’re paying more money. You can’t compare.”

“You keep bringing up the same thing over and over,” said Mackley. “You keep rehashing and rehashing and I’m going to cut you off. Nothing has changed. We are looking in to it. We know that an interim manager costs more, we know that.”

“This isn’t Mayberry, Pennsylvania,” said Mackley.

East Cocalico resident Brian Wise asked the supervisors a question.

“With the job description of the new township manager, is grant writing in there?” asked Wise. “When was the last time a grant was written for or applied for here?

“For a township, it’s tough to get grants,” said Mackley. “Boroughs get grants more readily than anybody. Townships, it’s tough, don’t ask me why.”

Gabriel talked for more than three minutes on the key to obtaining grants.

“You’re one of a million people applying for a little pot of money,” said Mackley. “You better have a real good story.”

“Sometimes those darts hit the board,” said Wise.

As a point of contrast, at the Jan. 23 West Earl Township supervisors meeting, an announcement was made that the township will receive nearly $1 million for sidewalk improvements from the State Department of Transportation.

Gabriel also works for Rettew Associates and helped secure that grant. At that meeting, Gabriel talked in-depth about the specifics of the grant and how much it will benefit West Earl.

After the meeting, Mitchell had additional comments.

“Just as a reference point, East Earl Township last fall had a similar situation,” Mitchell said. “Craig Ebersole, who lives in the township here, he was the manager there last year and in September, he notified the supervisors that at the end of the year, he was retiring, so they initiated a search and had several candidates and interviewed them and they had somebody hired for a reported $70,000.”

Resident Ken McCrea asked a question when Mackley was going over the list of bills.

A bill of $5,000 from Summit Risk Services with an explanation of “public officials insurance/deductible” piqued McCrea’s curiosity.

“It’s for potential litigation,” said Mackley. “That’s all I can say.”

In other news, Tony Luongo, zoning and code enforcement officer, provided some unique information.

“I have a report from a local representative from DEP a few weeks back that at 655 W. Swartzville Road, the owner, Mr. Leroy Hoover, was on site and DEP witnessed him installing some pipe work,” said Luongo. “Basically, the gentleman was trying to create a wetland. I’m happy to say that when I went out there, we stopped all work being done.”

The property has been stabilized. The creek bank had to be reconstructed.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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