WEEDVILLE - Over 30 township residents crowded Jay Township's municipal building on Friday morning at a special meeting of the township supervisors to voice their opinion on the supervisors’ recent decision to eliminate the position of roadmaster.
During the supervisor’s reorganization meeting on Monday, Jan. 3, a motion was made by supervisor Jeremy Rippey to eliminate the position of roadmaster. The motion was seconded by supervisor Francis Gustafson. No discussion on the matter was held at the time and the supervisors reported that they also did not hold an executive session to discuss the matter. Both Rippey and Gustafson then voted in favor of the motion, which was opposed by supervisor Murray Lilley, who had held the roadmaster position prior to Rippey and Gustafson deciding not to reappoint him.
According to Section 2301(e) of Article XXIII of the Second Class Township Code as stated on the website for the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, “the board of supervisors may employ one or more roadmasters. The roadmasters are subject to removal by the board of supervisors.”
Friday morning, both Gustafson and Rippey were asked to explain their position on the matter and to clarify what issues they had with the roadmaster.
In particular, township resident and former supervisor Bob Coppolo questioned Rippey on his role in the decision. Rippey expressed concern about Lilley's ability to manage road crew employees.
“Since September when I came in here, I can tell you that I have personally seen no chain of command. He is the boss,” Rippey said of Lilley. “I’ve questioned him on discipline issues. He says his hands are tied on that. Our garage looks like a lounge with recliners sitting in it.”
Rippey also noted that while Lilley had accomplished many good things for the township over the years, as detailed on an information sheet Lilley handed out prior to Friday’s meeting, he believed that many of those actions fell under Lilley’s responsibility as a supervisor, not as roadmaster.
Lilley’s information sheet indicated that since the year 2000, he had been responsible for over $1,014,800 in savings for the taxpayers of Jay Township, a figure that did not include money saved for in-house mechanical repairs performed by Lilley on the township’s equipment.
Additionally, Rippey remarked that he believed that Lilley had not been properly meeting the duties set forth in the job description for the township’s roadmaster position. In particular, he noted that some of the township’s snow removal equipment had not been properly prepared for the winter season.
“According to his job description as roadmaster, that kind of work for snowplow equipment is to be done before the winter plowing season starts. So to me he’s not doing his job properly. That’s why I’m unsatisfied,” Rippey said.
According to a copy of the Jay Township Roadmaster Job Description obtained from the township, one of the roadmaster’s major seasonal tasks for winter is to “assure that all snow removal equipment is safe and operational. Faulty equipment should be replaced as soon as possible.”
Rippey also stressed that he and Gustafson had not discussed their plans to eliminate the position prior to Monday’s meeting.
“There was no executive session. I made a motion, [Gustafson] seconded it, that’s final,” Rippey said.
Gustafson, for his part, indicated that issues with Lilley have been occurring all summer long and necessitated his removal from the roadmaster position. He explained that he had heard of Lilley disregarding orders regarding road maintenance and improperly maintaining township equipment.
For more on this story, see the Jan. 10 edition of The Daily Press.