DuBOIS — DuBois resident Debbie Mechling asked the city council, at their meeting Monday evening, to take “a wait and see” approach to spending money on several proposed projects in the city park.
“After reading about the proposed projects being considered in the DuBois City Park — new fields for ball, basketball court updates, pickle ball (courts), etc. – in light of current investigations which are not completed, in regards to our former city manager, at this time, new projects should not be considered, and take a wait-and-see approach to spending money,” Mechling said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“Questions remain as to what we will need to do to move forward,” said Mechling. “Will more legal fees be paid out of city accounts for the defense of our former city manager? Are we paying for two city manager positions at this time? Is a tax increase on the horizon as a result of this situation? Our taxpayers are already dealing with making ends meet with the staggering increases in prices across the board in their daily lives. Please consider taking a breath and see where the investigations lead us in the days ahead.”
Mechling also asked if it would be possible on future agenda items at the council meetings, when reviewing payments on the bills by council, if they could do a line-by-line listing with who the check is to and the amount so the public can have a clearer understanding of where the tax dollars are being spent.
Mechling also thanked the council for continuing the Music Fest concerts in the city park on Thursday nights.
“It’s a nice event to draw people in,” Mechling said. “I would also wonder if there was a possibility of having some food, ice cream trucks, non-profit groups, something like that to help enhance the experience. Punxsy (Punxsutawney) does this and it’s a real positive for the community.”
Later in the meeting, Interim City Manager Chris Nasuti said the city would be putting together the plans for the proposed ball field project and other projects at the city park.
“We’ll put together funding strategies. We’ll discuss it before we move forward,” said Nasuti. “We may have a way to do this with purely grant monies and not have to spend general fund monies. We’ll have different options for everyone to look at there.”
With regard to the payment of bills, Nasuti said the council was given a list of registry checks.
“It is 17 pages of every bill we pay,” said Nasuti. He said the city would look at ways to make those bills more accessible to the public.
Nasuti also said that the taxpayers are not paying two managers.
“I don’t have a contract, but I believe I’m getting around $8,000 for the entire year to assist (as) the interim manager,” said Nasuti.
Nasuti said the city is no longer paying legal fees for the city manager John “Herm” Suplizio.
“Is that going to be the policy in the future? No more legal fees being paid by taxpayer money?” said Mechling.
“As far as for this particular incident? I believe that’s correct,” said Nasuti, noting that if one of the council members or city employees would get called to testify, the city would pay those invoices.
“Some of those legal fees were not just for Mr. Suplizio, they were for other people, some employees, some fire department people like the treasurer and things like that,” said Councilman Pat Reasinger, who was just appointed to the council on June 22. “Which I would’ve agreed with that, they kind of got innocently caught into something and that the city should have taken care of these legal fees.”
“I think that would’ve gone over a little bit smoother with the public if they had been given a breakdown of that,” said Mechling.
“I agree,” said Reasinger.
“We will do that, if that situation arises, we would,” said Nasuti.
On March 20, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office charged Suplizio with five third-degree felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, a felony count of restricted activities, eight misdemeanor charges of fraudulent returns and a second-degree misdemeanor of misapplication of entrusted property, according to court documents. He is accused of committing more than $620,000 in fraudulent transactions from public accounts associated with the city, DuBois Area United Way and DuBois Volunteer Fire Department.
Suplizio has been placed on paid administrative leave from his role as city manager.
In early May, the public became aware that the city paid for $274,409.85 Suplizio’s private legal fees and that money came from the city’s general fund. The council approved the payment of those bills at their meetings on Feb. 27th, March 13th and 27th March.
Suplizio, 62, is being represented by Michael Anthony Comber, Esq. of the law firm of Reisinger Comber & Miller, LLC, based in Pittsburgh, and William A. Shaw Jr., Esq., from Clearfield. According to court documents, a judicial conference has been scheduled for 9 am on Aug. 16 in Hearing Room No. 3 of the Clearfield County Courthouse, with Senior Judge Charles H. Saylor.
Saylor, of Sunbury, Pa., was assigned to Suplizio’s case by the Administrative Office of PA Courts after both judges in Clearfield County, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman and Judge Paul E. Cherry, recused themselves.