Shake-up at West York Borough Council
In the wake of the West York Borough Council's two highest officers tendering their resignations Monday, new council President Shawn Mauck said Wednesday he is ready to move forward.
Former council President Shelley Metzler vacated her position at Monday's borough council meeting by reading a prepared statement. She said she ripped the letter up directly after the meeting, during which Vice President Nick Laughman also officially resigned.
"I would like us to move on. I kind of want to turn the page, if you will. We are looking to turn the page and are ready to be a positive force as a board and not dwell on the negative," Mauck said.
Metzler will remain on the board as a council member, whereas Laughman — citing an excess of drama and what he saw as overspending, as well as health issues — left the council completely, West York borough administrator Melissa Wirls said.
Metzler and Laughman were elected in November 2015 to four-year terms as council members and were then voted into their leadership roles by the council, Wirls said.
Laughman did not return calls seeking comment but made public weeks ago his intention to resign.
Resignations: Over the last few months, West York council meetings have at times descended into name-calling, blame-shifting and threat-making. At least once parties had to be physically separated by police officers to maintain order.
Metzler said via phone call Wednesday that her decision was made well in advance of Monday's council meeting. She said she grew tired of receiving what she considered to be offensive comments, texts and emails sent by other council members. None of the comments or messages she received crossed the line into threats or harassment, she said, and did not agree to turn over any of the messages she described as being "bullying" in nature.
"I've been thinking about it a lot over the last couple of weeks," she said. "There is just too much drama, and I'm just tired of it. I don't have to sit in that seat to do — as I have for the last four terms — good work for the people of this borough," she said.
It is on behalf of her constituents that Metzler said she decided to remain on the council.
Following her and Laughman's resignations, Mayor Charles Wasko made a motion nominating Mauck to the vacant presidency. The motion carried, as did a second motion naming council member Richie Stahle vice president, Wirls said.
Mauck said Wednesday he is proud to be able to serve as council president and was honored by his colleagues, who supported unanimously his nomination as council president.
"I imagine some of it’s my tenure, some of it’s my experience and some of it is the results we’ve gotten on some of the projects I’ve worked on," Mauck said. "But needless to say, I am excited to have the position. I am already on the ground running; I am willing to work with everybody and to foster an environment that is productive and respectful and professional."
New facility: In the coming weeks, the borough administration will move from its current offices at 1700 W. Philadelphia St. to a new facility, the vacant Grace Loucks Elementary School, located at 1381 W. Poplar St. The council voted in April to purchase that property for $200,000, and concerns over the costs associated with operating a building that large and maintaining it led to contentious debate prior to the vote. That issue, along with the dissension and rhetoric that went on during the previous regime, is some of what Mauck hopes to leave behind as the council looks to take on new challenges.
"I am very excited about the project. I think it is a terrific opportunity for the community to have a borough building that is open, efficient and provides an ease-of-service," Mauck said.
The new facility also will afford the borough the opportunity to partner with nonprofit organizations to lease office space not being used by the borough, he said.
"It was a great collaborative effort with the school district and the borough employees to make the contract happen. We have worked with the employees to reduce health insurance costs and save the borough about $40,000 a year in doing so, and that helps with the increase in costs of utilities in the new building and really makes the project feasible."
In the borough: The next borough council meeting will be held in the community as the meetings move outdoors for the summer in an effort to engage the community. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, June 20, at 1100 W. King St.