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    Pocono Township commissioners hire Belvin as manager after controversial ordinance change

    By Maria Francis, Pocono Record,

    2024-06-14
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2enVz4_0tr9WHBe00

    Pocono Township has hired a new township manger, former Commissioner Jerrod Belvin, and appointed a replacement commissioner, Brian Winot.

    Within a few minutes during the May 20 Pocono Township commissioners' meeting, motions were made and votes were taken to change a township ordinance, accept Belvin's resignation, and appoint him to the open paid position of township manager, effective June 5.

    The new ordinance drops the requirement that an elected commissioner must wait one year after leaving office prior to employment with the township.

    On June 6, Pocono Township Public Works Director Patrick Briegel confirmed that Belvin had assumed the role of township manager. "I relinquished the position of acting manager yesterday and I've retained my public works role as I was doing both for a while."

    According to Commissioner Ellen Gnandt, Belvin is working under a draft contract that is scheduled to be reviewed and approved at the next board meeting on June 17. She said the current draft imitates the last township manager's contract with a salary of $130,000.

    Over the past few months of Pocono Township commissioners' meetings, since the resignation of Township Manager Taylor Muñoz, community members have spoken out during public comment against the proposed change to drop that one-year waiting period, thereby allowing a sitting commissioner the opportunity to immediately resign and apply for a paid opening.

    Commissioner Ellen Gnandt has been the lone voice and consistent vote on the Board of Commissioners against the change in ordinance and appointment of Belvin, citing ethical reasons. "Whether this board or any future board, when a job comes up, we're the first to know and by default, we get first dibs, right? I don't think that is a good rule," she said in March.

    She also said, "Tell me why we're giving priority to a commissioner over any other applicant? We're holding this up for one of our own? That's preferential treatment and I believe that's an ethics issue."

    Belvin has not responded to requests for comment.

    How the Pocono Township Board of Commissioners got here

    • During the March 4 commissioners' meeting, Township Manager Taylor Muñoz announced his resignation with his last day of work being April 5.
    • March 19: The commissioners voted 4-1, with Gnandt opposed, to prepare an amendment that would remove the one-year waiting period for a commissioner to be appointed manager. Residents spoke against the change prior to the vote.
    • April 1: The commissioners appointed Public Works Director Patrick Briegel to fill in as the interim township manager. Discussion to change the township manger ordinance began, as then-Commissioner Jerrod Belvin openly expressed interest in the job opening.
    • April 23: A motion was passed to hold a public hearing to amend the township manager ordinance on May 20.
    • May 6: Gnandt made a motion to advertise for the open township manger position, but there were no seconds. Board President Richard Wielebinski responded by announcing that Belvin was going to resign his elected position and then the board was going to appoint him to the manager position.
    • May 20: The commissioners voted to change the township manger ordinance, accept Belvin's resignation as commissioner, appoint commissioner Natasha Leap as the new vice president, appoint Belvin as township manger effective June 5, authorize Solicitor Leo DeVito to execute a new contract between Pocono Township and Belvin at the current budgeted amount for the prior manager, and advertise for the new vacancy on the board.
    • June 3: The commissioners interviewed Dan McCreary, Brian Winot, Michael Putnam and Beata Jazwiec for the vacant commissioner role and then voted to appoint Brian Winot. He has been a resident since 2001 and served most recently as an alternate on the zoning hearing board in Pocono Township. Winot also serves as vice chairman on the Monroe County Conservation District Board of Directors and is owner of Northeast Site Contractors in East Stroudsburg.

    Maria Francis covers K-12 education and real estate, housing and development for the Pocono Record. Reach her atmfrancis@poconorecord.com.

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