COAL TOWNSHIP — Craig Fetterman, chairman of the township board of commissioners, said no one from Northumberland County has contacted him or township Manager Rob Slaby regarding settlement of a lawsuit filed by the county.
Fetterman, who was responding to a story in Tuesday’s edition of The News-Item in which county Commissioner Sam Schiccatano said a settlement could come as early as that day, also said any such agreement would need approval by the board at a properly advertised public meeting.
Schiccatano, speaking at the close of Monday’s county commissioners meeting, said he believed the county was close to settling the lawsuit he and fellow majority Republican Commissioner Rick Shoch filed against township commissioners regarding construction inspection and permit fees for the new county jail in Coal Township. Schiccatano said he had not received any official offer from the township commissioners to settle, but he claimed two of the five township commissioners are receptive to reaching an agreement.
Schiccatano, whose nephew Matt Schiccatano is a township commissioner, did not name the commissioners. Others on the board are Bernie Rumberger, George Zalar and Gene Welsh.
Fetterman contacted The News-Item Tuesday to specify that, while he wants to settle the suit “as much as anyone,” he was not among those negotiating with Sam Schiccatano.
But, he added, “my offer still stands,” referencing a proposal the board made in December and reiterated by Fetterman at a public meeting last week. The township said it would reimburse an agreed amount of the fees to the county, but that the county would then donate that same amount back to the township for the public recreation facility under construction on Arch Street.
Sam Schiccatano said previously that, with the county paying the same amount, “I don’t consider this proposal an offer to negotiate at all.”
The lawsuit was filed in January 2018 over $161,724 for state inspections and plan reviews and $220,801 for a building permit for construction of the county jail that opened last year. They claim the fees are not related to the actual cost incurred by the township in the work related to the administering of the permits and inspections, making them unenforceable by law, unconstitutional and invalid.
The township has defended its fees, based on 1 percent of total construction costs, which it says it uses for any township project. The township claimed in a motion for summary judgment that the lawsuit was premature and that the county lacked jurisdiction and failed to follow the statutory conditions of an appeal.
Senior Judge Dudley Anderson, of Lycoming County, ruled in an order dated Dec. 17 that the motion for summary judgment was denied.