Public scrutiny and pending criminal charges against former Harmony secretary Lyla Swan prompted one commissioner to defend the township's elected officials for the actions they have taken.
“I can say that with certainty that every member of this board serves with the utmost respect, fortitude and due diligence concerning every matter that affects this township and its residents,” said Payne, who has been on the board for a little more than a year.
Residents who spoke last month criticized commissioners, saying there is a level of mistrust in the township. Those who spoke were particularly upset about Swan, who is accused of stealing more than $190,000 from the township over the course of eight years.
Harmony Police Chief James Essek said Swan waived her right to a preliminary hearing earlier this month and is scheduled for a December pre-trial conference.
“This basically means they are in some negotiations for a plea or trial,” Essek said. “The case has moved on to the next step in the criminal proceedings.”
Payne said the board took "quite a beating" at the September meeting and he wanted to address some of the misconceptions. He said it was the actions of the board and the police department that put an end to any criminal acts that took place in the building.
Glenn Angus, commissioners chairman, said the board would like to be able to say more about the case, but can’t yet under legal advisement.
Payne said many elected officials appointed board members and various township staff who came before and they found no wrongdoing for many years.
Payne said actions were taken by the board to minimize the impact on residents. He said the timing of the sewage rate increase was unfortunate, but was in no way related to anything other than municipal waste water agreement between the four municipalities.
A lifelong resident, Payne said he is proud of the job he’s done thus far as a commissioner to improve and maintain all facets of the community.
He said it was the acts of the board to right the ship and get things back on track to make the community successful and thriving for years to come.
“I cannot speak for those who did not blow the whistle, or took a blind eye or those who were simply too inept to see what was going on, but I can say that with certainty in the echo of the chairman at last month’s meeting, ‘I’ll sleep just fine tonight for the job I’ve done and the decisions I’ve made.”
Those who feel the board has let them down, Payne apologized to those who feel the commissioners board has let them down and said he hopes that trust will be restored once more facts have been made public about the criminal charges.
“All we can do now is play the hand we’ve been dealt accordingly and all we can do now is move forward with our best intentions,” he said.
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