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Firings stun one Antrim supervisor

August 30, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. - On the night that the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors restructured its bureaucracy, Supervisor James Byers was on vacation, and like many in the township, he was stunned by the board's decision.

"I knew someone would be fired," Byers said. "I did not know who."

The board voted Aug. 21 to eliminate the positions of Township Manager Ben Thomas, Utilities Director Charles Goetz, Utilities Superintendent Larson Wenger, Roadmaster Paul Barnett, Assistant Roadmaster Robert Wible and Finance Secretary Eileen Strausner, and appoint Supervisors Fred Young and Rick Baer as interim township administrator and interim utilities director/roadmaster/superintendent, respectively.

Byers told the board Aug. 12 that he would be out of town the following week, but the board still voted to convene a special meeting Aug. 21 despite being one member short.

When the board voted Aug. 12 to keep the $29,750 study by Dhillon Management Services of Fullerton, Calif., to themselves for nine days, Byers cast the only opposing vote.

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"I think the department heads should see this (study) and have the opportunity to ask questions," Byers said at the Aug. 12 meeting. At a minimum, he said the board should share the results with Thomas.

Byers said the study has been a point of division between him and the board.

"The study is where we really disagree," he said. "I don't agree with the findings of the study."

Supervisor Fred Young said the board commissioned Dhillon to do the study because it wanted the most objective results possible.

At the special meeting, Matthew Dhillon said he recommended the supervisors eliminate eight township positions. He suggested the board cut the positions because none of the township's divisions were operating efficiently.

"I define efficiency as working at the level which the workload dictates," Dhillon said.

Byers said he did not read in Dhillon's report any specific positions to be eliminated.

While board Chairman Curtis Myers recently said he wants the study to be released in its entirety, Byers was the first to advocate the study be shared with the public.

"I don't see how anything in there can hurt those who have been fired," he said.

The board is waiting to hear from a lawyer as to whether it should release the entire study.

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