KULPMONT — A resolution to remove two members from the Kulpmont-Marion Heights Joint Municipal Authority (KMHJMA) was made by Kulpmont Council during a special meeting Monday night.
President Walter Lutz made the motion to remove KMHJMA Chairman Bruno Varano and Vice Chairman Bernie Novakoski from the authority, claiming when their appointment was made in the October 2016 board meeting, the seats were not vacant, therefore making their appointments null and void.
According to meeting minutes from the October 2016 meeting, the reappointment of Varano and Novakoski were made in a unanimous vote, including a vote cast by Lutz, who made the motion to reappoint.
When reached for comment Monday night, Varano said he thinks it’s terrible that Lutz made the motion to reappoint and then passed a resolution to remove him and Novakoski from their seats.
“It’s not right,” he said.
Monday’s vote to declare the two seats vacant was approved in a 4-0 vote, with Councilmen Mike Sinopoli, George Malakoski and Robert Slaby absent.
Varano said the vote had nothing to do with Lutz’s claims that the appointments were invalid and the same council that approved them would have voted in January 2017 if the vote held off until then.
Despite council’s resolution, Varano “absolutely” will be at tonight’s KMHJMA meeting at 7 p.m. at the Jan Sobieski Social Hall and intends on running the meeting as chairman.
He said he knew Lutz intended to try to have him removed from the authority and spoke to the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA) a month or two ago to learn his options.
“They said you can fight it, you can take it to court,” Varano said. “You don’t have to step down. (Council is) saying they passed this resolution, and we don’t have to pay any attention to it. We can take it to county court and nine out of 10 times (PMAA) said you’d win in county court.”
Varano said a vote will be taken tonight to settle a contract allowing the KMHJMA to become part of a union to guarantee to protect the current authority workers who he claims Lutz has threatened to fire.
While council voted to remove two authority members, they also voted to fill a position left vacant by the resignation of former co-chairman Robert Michalkovich, who claimed in his resignation letter that his reasons for leaving were “due to harassment by Kulpmont Council.”
Councilman Bob Fanella was appointed to the position in a 4-0 vote. He was the only candidate to apply.