Lower Paxton supervisors say one of their own may not be eligible to serve, abruptly end meeting

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The meeting lasted 38 seconds.

“I believe that a member of this board may no longer be eligible to hold the office of township supervisor,” Lower Paxton’s Chair of the Board of Supervisors Bill Hornung said after he gaveled in Tuesday night. “To hold the office of supervisor, one must be a resident of the township. Because of this issue, the board does not desire to have a meeting tonight, until this issue can be resolved. And with that, I will take a motion for adjournment.”

Hornung gaveled out. The crowd reacted.

Watch the full meeting here:

People at the meeting had been expecting answers after more than a year of questions about transparency and closed-door meetings. The board had agreed to address the public, placing a “review of the PA Sunshine Law as it is applied to meetings of the Board of Supervisors” item on the agenda.

Katie Scheib, who’s running for a township supervisor position in the November election, asked why the board couldn’t just hold a meeting without the supervisor in question, since enough elected leaders were present to conduct township business. Chairman Hornung answered, “The meeting’s over.”

Chairman Hornung answered, “The meeting’s over.”

Township manager George Wolfe says the board is questioning whether Supervisor Bill Seeds is still a legal resident of the township. His term is up in December, and he is not seeking re-election. He has spoken in the past about moving.

Seeds was present during Tuesday night’s meeting and did not resign or recuse himself. Board members say he was planning to participate.

ABC27 left a message for Seeds. He did not respond.

The board did not indicate what led them to believe Seeds may not be a legal resident of the township. Wolfe says the township solicitor advised that if Seeds is not a legal resident, any votes he makes after that point could be considered null and void.

Tuesday night’s meeting was a workshop session, which typically consists of deliberation and no vote.

People in the township say they feel cheated out of answers to their questions about transparency. They are also concerned about how long this issue could keep township decisions at a standstill.

“I know the Open Meetings Act wasn’t the only thing on the agenda, that there’s a revision to the recent ordinance for the retirement residential community that had concern,” Sheib said. “And we are all just very disappointed that this meeting did not take place.”

“That just leads people to be more cynical and what happens is less people get involved in the process,” government watchdog Eric Epstein, who lives in Lower Paxton Township, said of the abrupt end to the meeting. “It’s a lose-lose situation.”

ABC27 asked Wolfe if there’s a possibility all meetings for the last two and a half months of Seeds’ term would be canceled. Wolfe said the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17 is still on the calendar, but it’s too early to tell what will happen. He said there are mechanisms through the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office to remove any supervisor who is deemed ineligible to serve and refuses to resign.

Wolfe also said the issue will be resolved quickly if Seeds can prove legal residency in Lower Paxton Township.

 

 

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