Lehigh Valley

Moore Township recruiting its first township manager

End of an era

MOORE TWP., Pa. - Moore Township supervisors Tuesday night took steps to create the position of township manager and end the era of having paid elected board members oversee municipal operations.

By a 2-1 vote, the board approved the advertising of an ordinance to create the position of township manager, which could be voted on at its March meeting.

In a separate 2-1 vote, the board agreed to retain the services of the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College to help the township recruit a manager in a national search. The center will be paid no more than $6,000 plus mileage for its services.

The dissenting vote on both measures came from Supervisor Richard Gable, the board member who is paid $28 an hour, or roughly $56,000 a year, to essentially carry out the duties of a township manager. At one time, all three supervisors were paid to serve as road master, road foreman and secretary-treasurer, a practice once common in rural townships.

Solicitor David Backenstoe said the township manager will be responsible for a wide range of duties, including supervising union and nonunion employees and negotiating wages, working with the chief of police, managing contracts, budgets, inventories, purchases and long-range fiscal planning, and preparing agendas and reports.

No salary has been established for the new position, which will report to the board of supervisors.

The position will be on a year-to-year contract and can be terminated at any time with a 30-day notice.

Some residents expressed concern that having a township manager will mean losing the personal touch provided by Gable, who is in his second, four-year term, and spending more for the same work from someone without a strong connection to the township. Others said it’s time to move forward, following the lead of neighboring townships that have hired professional township managers.

Board Chairman Daniel Piorkowski said having a township manager skilled in securing grants to pay for township projects may be more cost-effective in the long run.

David Shaffer, board vice chairman, said hiring a township manager “is the way to go,” a reflection of changing times and responsibilities in managing the functions of municipal government.

When some residents asked whether Gable would be in line for the job, Gable, who noted that a township manager’s salary can range from $75,000 to $100,000, quickly said, “That’s not going to happen.”

He said after the meeting that he will not be seeking another term.

Other business

In other action, the board voted to advertise an ordinance to disband the township’s environmental advisory council and land preservation board and create the Moore Township Land and Environmental Protection and Acquisition Board. The township has been having difficulty filling seats on the two panels, and moving to a single board made sense to carry out the township’s farmland preservation and open space efforts, Backenstoe said.


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