MONESSEN – Two months after Maria Scuteri was appointed the city’s new controller, she abruptly lost her job.
Mayor Matt Shorraw made a motion at Tuesday’s council meeting to declare the positions of both controller and treasurer vacant, citing failures to qualify for office with the submission of necessary affidavits of residency and bonds prior to taking the oath of office.
Scuteri was appointed controller last December after Wayne Vlasic stepped down to become a magisterial district judge. The city’s treasurer, Gerald Saksun, has served in that post for nearly a decade.
Motions to vacate both seats passed, but so did a motion to reappoint Saksun to the treasurer’s post, contingent upon him providing the necessary affidavit of residency and proof of bond.
A motion to do the same for Scuteri, supported by council members Tony Orzechowski and Lois Thomas, was shot down by Shorraw and council members Gilbert Coles and Don Gregor.
Before council voted on either measure, Scuteri tearfully addressed council.
“I have served on the (Monessen) school board for 14 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
“We had our disagreements, but we got things done. Things aren’t being discussed by this council before items appear on the agenda. I expressed interest in this position and never expected to get wrapped up all the politics. I’m going to leave it up to you guys to make a decision,” Scuteri said before she left the meeting.
Orzechowski asked council to rescind the motions declaring the controller and treasurer positions vacant.
“This is asinine,” he said. “Why don’t we simply ask Maria and Jerry to just supply the necessary affidavits and move on? Maria was already sworn in. This could end up in the courts if you remove her.”
He also accused Shorraw of withholding information from the rest of the council.
“Why weren’t Lois Thomas and I informed about this before the meeting?” he asked. “We just learned about this tonight when we looked at the agenda. You had no problem reappointing Jerry. Why aren’t we appointing Maria?”
On Wednesday, Shorraw said he did not feel Scuteri was the best person for the position, noting he and Gregor both believe she “has been too political with her remarks and action.”
“I disagreed with that, so I voted to seek someone else who is more qualified. Hopefully we can find someone who is a (certified public accountant) and is more neutral,” he said.
He added that he did not believe the city would face any legal action because Third Class City Code requires council to remove someone from office if they have not met the requirements. Officials will have 30 days to appoint someone to the post, he said, noting he’s had two people interested in the controller position reach out to him so far.
“I told them to submit their letters and resumes to the city administrator,” Shorraw said.
Also, during the meeting, Coles submitted $106,000 in bills to be paid.
When Coles was asked how much money is in the general fund, he lashed out at Orzechowski.
“Why are you always nitpicking everything? If you want information, see the city administrator,” he said.
Coles also took issue with Monessen resident Pino Cianflone, who criticized Coles and Shorraw for missing meetings for 18 months.
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll meet you outside after this meeting,” Coles told Cianflone.
In other business, the council voted to:
- Appoint Delmar Hepple to the position of municipal fire chief;
- Hire John Frederick as a full-time patrolman with the Monessen Police Department;
- Appoint Ted Harhai to fill the vacant position on the Refuse Authority until the term ends on Dec. 31, 2023’
- Adopt a social media policy governing city employees;
- Accept letters of interest and applications for the position of emergency management coordinator for the city.
In addition, Shorraw issued a proclamation congratulating Charles Keller for 50 years of service with the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department.