DuBOIS — The Sandy Township Supervisors at Monday’s reorganization meeting decided that they would like to talk with the City of DuBois about consolidation between the two municipalities and the possibility of pursuing a study to review the pros and cons of consolidation.
Bill Beers, one of the two new supervisors, proposed directing township Manager Shawn Arbaugh to meet with city Manager John “Herm” Suplizio and get some preliminary information about a consolidation study through the state.
Supervisor Mark Sullivan made the motion and Sam Mollica, also a new supervisor, seconded the motion.
“I believe that a study initiated by us should be funded by us,” said Supervisor Jim Jeffers. “Historically, the city has been for consolidation and Sandy Township has been against consolidation. I know there usually is grant money out there from the state and they usually supply a list of vendors to do studies now. I know the state is pro-consolidation, so that would lead me to believe that the list they supply are pro-consolidation. I feel for a true independent study to give you honest evaluations, it would be best to be done independently, if we acquire grant money that there’s no attachments to it, that we have to use their vendors. I believe, like I said, historically, where different communities stood. I feel that we should fund the survey or evaluation by ourself and I believe you get a more honest evaluation.”
“I don’t think that motion was to necessarily hire anybody at this point,” said Sullivan.
Beers agreed with Sullivan, noting that it’s just to initiate dialogue about consolidation between the two municipalities.
“To sit down with them (city) and see where we can go,” said Beers.
“But again, I feel that we should fund it ourselves,” said Jeffers. “We’ve been down this road before, Bill. I know what’s available. It should still be available. But again I feel we should fund it ourself. Go it alone and get a fair and honest independent evaluation.”
Beers said that’s why he thought if the township opens up the dialogue with the city to look at the various state vendors available, they can select a third party to do the study.
“And we need somebody that’s an expert in that area and that way they can determine all of the limiting factors because Shawn has brought up some good points about pros and cons for consolidation,” said Supervisors’ Chairman Kevin Salandra. “Just in some private conversations I’ve had with him and since none of us are really experts in that field, I think it does make sense.”
Jeffers agreed the study should be conducted by an expert.
“But I know that the manager of the city has stated within the last year that he was going to push for consolidation this year,” said Jeffers. “So he’s already stated where his position was. I don’t feel, if they have input in it, that it will be a fair evaluation. That’s why I feel we should do it ourselves. Hire somebody ... and show us what you have ... wherever the chips may fall. I’m not against a fair and equal evaluation of the system, but I don’t want to see one being slighted one direction or the other.”
At first, Jeffers voted in favor of the proposed motion with the stipulation that any study be done independently. However, Mollica said he didn’t want any stipulations added to the proposal. Jeffers then changed his vote to no, but the proposal still passed in a 4-1 vote.
Later in the meeting, Jeffers clarified his no vote.
“I’m not against any study, an independent study,” said Jeffers. “I’m against any type of outside influence on a fair and honest evaluation.”
Three consolidation proposals involving the City of DuBois and Sandy Township have previously failed to pass by a vote in referendum — one in November 1989, one in May 1995 and one in November 2002. All three were voted down by Sandy Township residents.