By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHEPPTON - East Union Township's former treasurer Mary Stitzer and current supervisor Jon Dettery may be on the hook for a fraudulent pay increase Stitzer received.
Township auditors are seeking to impose a surcharge on the two to recoup $42,170 Stitzer received in excess of her approved salary throughout her tenure from January 2014 to July 2018, supervisors said at the meeting. In addition, Stitzer faces an additional surcharge of $20,841 in health insurance.
The matter was a subject of debate in July when it was brought to light, when Stitzer was questioned about the origin of the increase. Stitzer was approved to earn $6,000 a year, though she had been receiving $10,560 a year to that point.
At the time, it was noted that no proof of a vote approving such an increase was found. Subsequently, supervisors passed the matter along to township auditors and voted to reduce the treasurer's salary to $6,000. Following the meeting, Stitzer resigned.
At the supervisors meeting in August 2018, a signed, handwritten letter by Dettery authorizing the pay raise was brought into question.
"I, John Dettery, hereby state that I approved raises given to Mary Stitzer in February 2014, and January 2015. All raises were approved verbally by me, as she held her position as treasurer for East Union Township since January 2014 until present," said supervisors chairman Dennis Antonelli at the time, reading the letter.
The Hazleton Standard~Speaker reported Wednesday that auditors "found that collusion occurred between Stitzer and Dettery, as he approved her salary increases, which weren’t approved by the board of supervisors, and they subverted the Sunshine Act’s requirement that township expenditures be approved at public meeting."
Additionally, the Standard~Speaker added "auditors reviewed township and other documents and interviewed Stitzer, Davidson, Dettery, supervisors John Biros and Dennis Antonelli, and a representative of the township payroll service as part of their investigation."
Both Dettery and Stitzer have 45 days to appeal to Schuylkill County Court.
Supervisors voted Wednesday to acknowledge receipt of the report, and residents questioned why Dettery was the only supervisor being held responsible.
"It's a board of three, all three elected to watch over the money and the ongoing [activities] of the township," said Pam Hartz, Sheppton, adding that Antonelli and Biros were equally responsible.
Sherry Streeter contributed to this report
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