North Franklin supervisor exits meeting

December 28, 2012

A North Franklin Township supervisor walked out of a meeting Friday, claiming any votes taken there would be illegal because the board chairman seated at the table had resigned two weeks ago and turned in his keys to all municipal buildings.

Supervisor Silvio Passalacqua said he would file an immediate appeal to Washington County Court for a ruling on the resignation of Jim Huff, who informed the township Wednesday he decided to postpone his resignation until after the township reorganization meeting in two weeks.

“This stinks of backroom politics at its worst,” Passalacqua said, reading from a prepared statement before he left the room.

Huff then called to order the meeting, where he and the other supervisor, Dennis Dydiw, reached an agreement with the Washington Wild Things Frontier League baseball team requiring it to pay $28,000 a year through 2017 in lieu of being assessed amusement and parking taxes. The team also will pay the township $10,000 a year in real estate taxes under the agreement, township manager Bill Boucher said.

“I look at it as fair,” Boucher said, adding that the township likely would have netted just $16,000 a year through an amusement tax.

Wild Things spokeswoman Chris Blaine could not be reached Friday for comment.

Meanwhile, Huff declined to comment on why he changed his mind about resigning, other than to say, “I don’t think I am resigning,” when asked if he still planned to leave office after the Jan. 7 reorganization meeting.

Huff did not cite a reason for his resignation in a two-sentence letter to supervisors he signed and dated Dec. 17.

“Due to circumstances beyond my control I must resign my position immediately. I have enjoyed my time with you and wish you and the township the best,” Huff stated in the resignation letter. Huff was elected to his first term on the board of supervisors in November 2010.

Passalacqua further complained that the Dec. 19 supervisors meeting was canceled without consulting him, and that Dydiw hadn’t talked to him for a year.

“You and Mr. Dydiw seem to forget that I was elected to serve as a supervisor, just like the two of you,” Passalacqua said. “I feel like a doormat here.”

Dydiw didn’t respond to Passalacqua’s allegations.

Dydiw said the supervisors needed to formally accept Huff’s resignation to make it official.

“He retracted before we had a chance to vote,” Dydiw said.

In other business, Dydiw and Huff approved the township’s 2013 budget of $2 million without raising taxes, as expected.

They also agreed to accept proposals from consultants to enter into the state’s early intervention program to avoid financial distress.

The supervisors also instructed the township’s code enforcement officer to inform township residents about illegal discharges of water from their property into the streets.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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