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Last updated: January 14. 2014 11:45PM - 1713 Views
JON O’CONNELL joconnell@timesleader.com



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ASHLEY — Borough council voted unanimously to re-open the budget, citing incomplete contracts and undocumented stores of cash that could change the outlook for 2014.


Newly appointed Borough Manager Greg Gulick shocked some council members saying that, since he has been in office, he has found two bank accounts, one with about $2,500 in it and another with about $40,000, that were not accounted for in borough records.


Gulick said it is hard to pinp0int when the accounts were last on the books. The smaller account has signatures from a former borough councilman who died more than eight years ago. Even greater mystery shrouds the $40,000 account, which has fewer indicators as to when it was last accessed, Gulick said.


He said he will be looking into the matter further, and council voted to have the money consolidated into the borough’s capital-improvement fund.


In addition to the extra funds, the borough has yet to reach a contract agreement with Gulick, and there was debate over what his official title will be based on his responsibilities.


Council Vice Chairman Frank Sorokach said he was uncomfortable with the title “manager” because Gulick is to assist the borough by writing grants, a duty that could take him away from the office at times or leave him indisposed to handle routine responsibilities.


Also, a contract has yet to be reached with police Chief John Bell.


Council is to meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 and again at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4 to rehash the budget. The meetings will be open to the public.


In other business:


• Council voted to arrange for Ashley Towing to be the borough’s primary towing contractor. Ashley Towing and its owner, James Barberio had once held the borough’s exclusive towing contract.


Barberio is currently suing the borough for breach of contract. Barberio has accused Bell of ignoring the contract by instructing officers not to use Ashley Towing after Barberio reported an officer was sleeping on the job, the suit says.


Further, Barberio accuses the council of knowing of Bell’s instructions and not making any adjustments.


Barberio told council he wanted the lawsuit, which was first filed in August, to be over, though it was unclear whether his attorneys would settle or Barberio would drop the suit.


• Nearing her resignation, former Borough Secretary Christine Casey was given $2,000 that former council President Joe Gorham said was regular compensation for hours worked.


Gorham said the council voted to give Casey the money, but residents were largely in favor of an investigation, and several spoke up during the council meeting insisting the District Attorney’s Office or state attorney general should be called in to give them answers.


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