If the tone at last week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting is any indication, the atmosphere of the board’s twice-a-month meetings may have grown tense at times since four new members took office in November.
Gone are the days of 20-minute meetings and a fondness by the seven-member board to move ordinances along and conduct business at meetings without lengthy and bitter debates.
To that end, newly elected Supervisor Greg Stewart took matters into his own hands to schedule the rare “committee-of-the-whole” session, with the goal of getting members to talk openly.
During the two-hour meeting, Mr. Stewart led discussions on topics varying from the handling of agenda items and ordinances to employee morale and respect among members.
No action was taken during the session.
Mr. Stewart, who won election to office in November, said board members sometimes, though probably not intentionally, appear to the public to be disrespectful and “not being nice” to others on the panel.
“The feedback I am getting back from the public is there is some pointing out of individuals. I am not going to name names, but it is more than just one person. We need to try to be more nice,” Mr. Stewart said.
Besides Mr. Stewart, the newly elected board members are Paul Pirrone, Rick Steiner, and Nancy Tienvieri.
When the discussion moved to the topic of debate and civil discussion, Clerk Trudy Hershberger said word around the community is the board has become a “a joke,” and the township should charge viewers to watch the board meetings on the local cable channel.
Treasurer Paul Francis cautioned his fellow board members against dwelling in the past and instead urged the board to work together toward achieving common goals to improve the township.
“I think we can disagree without being disagreeable. We are never going to agree on every issue. We really don’t want to agree on everything because if we did, then why would we need seven board members?” said Mr. Francis, who has been on the board since 2004.
Mrs. Tienvieri said each board member has different experiences and background, and the board should work on setting policy and rules for conducting meetings and establishing goals.
“We all have difference perspectives and different goals. ... We don’t all have the same goals. There is nothing wrong with that. We should all have the same direction,” she said.
Larry O’Dell, also elected to the board in 2004, said he believes the board lacks vision.
“We don’t have common goals. Everybody has some individual things they would like to see accomplished,” he said.