Sharon Dannaway named as Tyrone Borough Manager

Well, you can take the word interim off the nameplate on the desk in the borough manager’s office in Tyrone.
Last night, Tyrone Borough Council voted to appoint Sharon Dannaway as borough manager after she had spent the first seven months of the year acting as interim manager. Prior to the vote, Dannaway resigned her position as a councilperson.
In January, she had taken a leave of absence from her council seat to accept the interim position. The position had been open since the firing of former manager Nathan George in June of last year.
The 57-year-old Tyrone resident had served on council since 2000 prior to her appointment as interim manager.
After the meeting, Dannaway said, “I just look forward to working for the residents of the community and council who has been very progressive and hopefully can keep the momentum going.”
Mayor Patricia Stoner said, “I’m very pleased, I don’t think we could have made a better choice. She has proven herself over the last six months.”
In January, council voted 6 to 1 in favor of Dannaway’s appointment. Bill Fink voted no, and Dannaway abstained. Last night’s vote for Dannaway’s permanent appointment was similar. Five voted in favor while Fink voted against it. Councilperson Jennifer Bryan was not at the meeting.
In January, both Solicitor Larry Clapper and Mayor Stoner said the move to appoint Dannaway was allowed by the borough’s charter (under Section 803) and there had been at least two other times when council members took leave of their seats to serve as interim managers.
At the time, Clapper explained the interim appointment would allow council time to work on looking for a permanent manager. Dannaway’s place on council remained open while she served as interim manager and she was free to return to it had she decided not to continue as borough manager or if council had decided to appoint someone else.
With her permanent appointment last night, Dannaway was required to resign her seat. Council will have to appoint someone to the vacancy under its charter rules.
During last night’s meeting, Fink told Dannaway he was sorry he couldn’t vote for her because he didn’t think the process that allowed her permanent appointment was correct.
He cited two sections of the borough’s charter that he claimed outlined prohibitions to her appointment. He cited Section 303, that states, “A member of Council shall not hold any other compensated Borough office or be employed by the Borough or act as a paid consultant to the Borough, either during his term of office or until after the expiration of his term of office, if for any reason he does not complete said term.”
Section 305 of the charter notes a term of a councilperson is four years except when an appointed member is filling a vacancy. In those cases, the person only serves the balance of the unexpired term.
Fink contends, even though Dannaway resigned as a councilperson last night prior to her permanent appointment as borough manager, she should be prohibited from holding the compensated position since her council term had not yet expired and won’t until Dec. 31, 2007.
Solicitor Clapper said the borough could have decided to leave Dannaway as an interim manager but elected to make her appointment permanent.
“Section 803 is an exception to Section 303,” said Clapper. “It has to be, that is the way the charter drafters interpreted it by appointing their own members (to sit as borough managers) and this has just been a continuation.
Clapper also explained he didn’t think the language in Section 303 or 305 prevented Dannaway’s appointment as borough manager since the end of her term would be the point of her resignation. In this case, she tendered her notice on July 31 and council accepted it last night.
Clapper was asked if he took Mr. Fink’s concerns into consideration in any interpretation he had made regarding the charter. He said, “Actually, no, because I think the charter is pretty clear.”
Clapper said when looking at different sections of the charter it’s necessary to look at how they work in conjunction with each other. In other words, “how does this make sense?” He also said, “the specific supersedes the general” in interpreting the charter.
Mayor Stoner said the borough had discussed Mr. Fink’s concerns over Dannaway’s appointment “several times at length.”
She said, “It’s not that I don’t have concern, because he has an opinion, of course you have to be concerned about other people’s opinions. As far as, is it okay? Well, we have set precedent twice in the past. The precedent is set and precedent is good in law.”
She did say she wasn’t aware if there had been a previous situation where council had appointed an interim manager and that person eventually became a permanent manager.
“We hire Larry (Clapper) to set our course as far as the legal ramifications,” said Stoner. “He’s not steered us wrong in the past, while I appreciate Bill (Fink)’s opinion, I certainly rely upon the opinion of our solicitor.”
After the meeting, Fink summed up his thoughts by saying, “I don’t believe we are in compliance with the home rule charter.”