Wyoming divided over embattled borough manager

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader
Smith -

WYOMING — Multiple discussions over the roles and responsibilities of Borough Manager Tamra Smith dominated Monday night’s Wyoming Borough Council meeting, ultimately resulting in a denied motion to terminate Smith near the meeting’s end.

Smith, who is currently under investigation for missing financial records and unexplained purchases from both the Wyoming Free Library and Wyoming Hose Co. 1, was not present for the meeting, and unavailable to give her side on questions revolving around her actions in various departmental roles that ranged from missing audit reports to security systems.

No charges have been filed. Despite previous concerns raised by a councilman and others, Smith has been allowed to remain in her post, as confirmed Monday night.

Meanwhile, borough officials in a separate move unanimously continued the unpaid leave of Police Commissioner Michael Flanagan, who was arraigned on theft charges last month relating to his previous job at Laflin Borough.

Smith issues

In an open comment before the meeting, Mayor Joseph Dominick handed council members a third part of a 2016 audit that was never received. After reaching out to Prociak and Associates, who completed the audit, Dominick said he was provided with the report regarding suggestions to help improve the borough.

Going through what he called the “manager’s audit” with council members and meeting attendees, Dominick highlighted what he deemed areas of concern. These included:

• Invoices not marked as approved or paid.

• Several cash receipts not being deposited in a timely manner.

• Outstanding checks greater than 90 days.

Also on the report was a concern over interfund transfers relating to the Wyoming Valley Sewer Authority. According to the accounting firm, a reimbursement check from WVSA in the amount of $21,875 was erroneously deposited to the general fund rather than the sewer fund.

“I guess the biggest issue I have is this is addressed to borough council,” Dominick stated. “So if you guys all asked — as well as I did — for a copy of the audit, why did we not receive it?”

Issues regarding Smith’s handling of borough business remained steady throughout the meeting, including a false auto payment system that was set up for a bank loan and the fact that only Smith has primary access to the majority of borough and police camera systems.

Dominick asked former officer Michael Jordan to explain the importance of the security system, which is used not only to monitor the building but for police interrogation and more.

Taking to the podium, Jordan went on to state that, in his opinion, only law enforcement or their direct supervisors should have access to the system, and that access should be on a “need to know” basis. He emphasized the importance to keep integrity within the police department and to ensure that the information is kept on a closed system.

After public comment, which included concerns by Jerry Walsh over Right To Know requests which were either not received or mailed past deadline, Baloga made an impromptu motion to terminate Smith as the borough manager. Only he and councilman Joseph Scaltz voted in favor of the motion, resulting in it being turned down to an uproar of jeers from attendees.

“What are you afraid of? What does (Smith) have on you?,” asked a woman from the back of the room.

“You’re a bunch of cowards,” another yelled to council.

Police matters

Continuing with a series of unanticipated motions, Baloga made a motion to allow Wyoming Borough police officers access to the camera system. The motion passed, with only councilman Michael Flynn opposed.

Council also welcomed back Officer Christopher Mercavitch, who returned to duty Aug. 13 following a medical leave. He was lauded by the board and the audience.

Smith
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Tamra-Smith-photo-2.jpgSmith

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader