Home Rule treasurer resigns

Gary Bucci, third from left, takes a seat at the Home Rule Commission's table after being appointed to fill a vacancy created by former treasurer Michael Dely. From left are Richard Conti, Marco Bulisco, Eric Ritter, Gary Bucci and Michael Tempesta.

Another member of the Home Rule Commission has resigned following last month's resignation of the commission's chairwoman.

"Before we bring someone on, the financial future of the City of New Castle hangs in the balance of this commission," said Marco Bulisco, the commission's secretary. "Can we please get to work and stop reorganizing? I'm in for the long haul."

Michael Dely was elected to the commission in the November 2019 general election, and was voted by the commission to be their treasurer during their first meeting later that same month.

His resignation was approved by a 5 to 1 vote. Michael Tempesta voted "no."

"I don't think he had a good reason to (resign)," said Tempesta.

Dely did not provide a reason for his resignation in a letter he wrote to the commission.

After accepting the resignation of former chairwoman Mary Burris on Jan. 24, the commission selected four alternates — Shannon Crisci-Brock, Gary Bucci, Marenda Zeronas, Paul Neubecker and former Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo. Crisci-Brock was appointed to fill Burris' vacancy during that meeting.

After being nominated by Eric Ritter, Bucci was unanimously appointed to fill Dely's spot on the commission as well as the treasurer post.

According to chairwoman Susan Linville, Zeronas and Neubecker have rescinded their interest in joining the commission. Linville is unsure if Mastrangelo is still interested.

"You guys are the seven most important people in the City of New Castle right now," said Terri Cunkle, a local government policy specialist for the Department of Community and Economic Development. "You are the seven most important because this (Home Rule) needs to succeed for the bright future of New Castle."

Some of the members reported back to the commission after meeting with local government officials after their last meeting to learn about the third-class city code as well as cities operating under a Home Rule Charter.

Linville along with Tempesta spoke with Sharon city manager and fire chief Robert Fiscus Jr. about his experience under Home Rule.

"We talked to Robert about what it was like going through Home Rule," said Linville, who also noted Fiscus said he was hesitant about what would happen in terms of unions and negotiations. "He said now it works really well."

Sharon went from a strong mayor and council structure of government to a city manager and council structure in 2007.

Linville along with Crisci-Brock met with Council President Tom Smith and Councilman Bryan Cameron about their roles under the third-class city code.

"Tom was concerned that he thinks that, at least here, the city mayor has too much power," said Linville, who noted Smith thought having a new mayor in office would be "better.""That they're having communication problems and that the mayor's kind of running over the city council."

Crisci-Brock added Cameron agreed with Smith over communication challenges with Mayor Chris Frye.

"That's the problem with a strong mayor kind of government is that the mayor can, you know, (run) over the city council," Linville continued. "We have to keep that in mind."

Linville noted Smith was in favor of a council with more members through ward representation as well as term limits for council members.

Bulisco told his fellow commission members, when interviewing people in the government, they must think beyond the person that currently holds the position and how effective they are.

"It's essentially how the office is supposed to function in the government," said Bulisco. "Is this a functional process?"

Cunkle told the commission they were awarded a $30,000 grant for the cost of consulting services. New Castle City Council will vote to accept or deny the grant at its Feb. 26 meeting.

The commission is currently in its fourth month of the 18-month process of studying the third-class city code and determining if a Home Rule Charter would better fit the city. They have until April 28 to decide whether they would like to pursue writing a charter.

mbasileo@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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