Supervisor candidate questions conflict of interest at Norwegian Township meeting – Republican & Herald

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MAR LIN — A possible conflict of interest at an auditors meeting was a subject of contention Monday at the Norwegian Township supervisors meeting.

About 30 people attended the 7 p.m. meeting at the township municipal building.

David George, supervisor candidate, asked why Kevin Grace, a township employee and son of Supervisor Leo Grace, was receiving health benefits for only working part time. He also questioned how much money Leo Grace makes as a township employee.

Supervisor Stanley Petchulis asked if George was picking on Leo Grace, which George denied.

“It’s about doing the right thing,” George said.

Township solicitor BJ Evans said the supervisors can decide what to pay employees and what benefits to offer them. Petchulis said all part-time employees are offered health insurance and can decide to take it or not.

George read a letter aloud that he then handed to Evans. In it, he raises concerns about the 2016 auditors reorganization meeting, which he alleged was an “illegal” meeting.

“As a resident of Norwegian Township and a candidate in the upcoming election, I want to bring to your attention one of the many concerns that I have with the way business is being conducted in the Norwegian Township front office. In this issue, there were only two auditors in attendance at the meeting, Mr. Kevin Grace and Gail Kurtek. Also at this meeting was Supervisor Leo Grace. I am concerned with the conflict of interest which made it illegal for auditor Kevin Grace to vote on his father, Leo Grace, as the full-time Norwegian Township clerk with a salary of $2,000 a month and for himself to be the assistant Norwegian Township clerk at a rate of $18 per hour. Furthermore, it is an embarrassment to you as the Norwegian Township solicitor and the residents of Norwegian Township that the Norwegian Township Supervisor Leo Grace, a supervisor of 40 years, allowed this illegal meeting to take place. I would also like to inform you that a suit may be filed on behalf of the Norwegian Township residents for monies paid to Mr. Leo Grace and Mr. Kevin Grace in 2016 to be paid back to Norwegian Township General Government Account,” the letter states.

A copy of the Norwegian Township auditors reorganization meeting minutes for 2016 was attached to the letter.

Evans said he will review the letter and respond.

Leo Grace said his son is a good worker.

“Kevin does his job,” he said.

Leo Grace said he does not feel he did anything wrong.

Petchulis said the township is run well, something George did not take issue with except for what he sees as problems with the front office.

In other matters, Petchulis announced that the township did not get a PA Small Water and Sewer Program Grant through the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“I was very disappointed that we did not get the money for the Hillside Sewer Project,” Petchulis said.

He added that no official rejection was received but he called a state legislator and found out the only entity in Schuylkill County to receive funding was the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority.

Also at the meeting, township road foreman Bill Kirwan said residents have asked about the repair schedule for the road program.

“I did compile a list of all the streets and alleyways in the township that are in need of repair,” Kirwan said.

Petchulis said he and others will go out to look at the roads. Kirwan said he also wants to be present for that.

Evans said the township should pass an ordinance to reduce property taxes for active volunteer firefighters. He added it “would be good for the local community.”

“Pennsylvania passed a law that permits the local municipalities to actually give a rebate or a pass an ordinance to allow a rebate for volunteer firefighters. Now they have to be active in the fire company, and it has to be provided by the fire chief for active firefighters not just members,” Evans said.

“We are for that 100 percent. Anything for the firefighters or the police,” Petchulis said.

Contact the writer: amarchiano@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6028