South Fayette interviews third firm
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The brush fire over engineering services in South Fayette got a little hotter Monday night, as in-house engineer Dave Gardner read a statement defending his record and the commissioners interviewed a third engineering firm that is ready to replace him.
"I would have to challenge anyone to be subjected to the level of gossip, innuendo and personal attack that I have been since December and have it not affect them personally and professionally," Mr. Gardner said.
The commissioners last month passed a new policy banning personal use of township vehicles. It amounted to a pay cut of several thousand dollars for Mr. Gardner, who had been given use of a vehicle with free gas and maintenance as part of his employment package. It had a similar impact on township Manager Mike Hoy.
Mr. Gardner said previously that he believes the change was aimed primarily at him, and commissioners' Chairman Tom Sray confirmed previously that he'd had many more complaints about Mr. Gardner than he had about Mr. Hoy.
In his statement, Mr. Gardner said that he'd spent about $1,000 of his own money on his vehicle in the past year, though he was not required to, because "I did not want it said that I took it for granted."
He also said his benefits package is about $2,000 a year below the average for nonunion township employees, and that he has logged 125 hours of unpaid overtime so far this year.
"I do believe I save the township money," he said.
Commissioner Deron Gabriel who was elected in November along with Greg Curl said when he was campaigning many voters were concerned about Mr. Gardner's vehicle use, and felt it was his duty to look into it.
He said the feedback since the policy change has been overwhelmingly positive, and that he had talked with Mr. Hoy about changing compensation rates to make up for it.
"I think the expectation was that we would wait until budget time to do that," Mr. Gabriel said. The policy change will go into effect in August; budget changes would take effect in January.
At his first meeting, Mr. Gabriel proposed hiring a consultant to evaluate Mr. Gardner's performance, he questioned whether the township is getting enough grant money and he raised the vehicle use question.
The township has hosted three engineering firms for presentations -- Remington, Vernick & Beach; Chester Engineers and HRG, a statewide firm with offices in Cranberry.
"There is some question whether we need a full-time, in-house engineer," Mr. Gabriel said. "I also believe that [Mr. Gardner's] strength is in residential development, and the township's focus now is on commercial."
But he said that's just a topic he thinks the commissioners need to eventually discuss, not a decision he's even made for himself.
"We don't have specific plans to replace [Mr. Gardner], nothing like that," he said. "I have not been praising his work, and have not been criticizing it. I'm in the process of evaluating it."
First Published May 22, 2008 12:00 am