Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Tyrone Borough’s former Manager Nathan George will receive nearly $3,500 after a settlement was reached between the borough and its former employee.
On Wednesday, the borough released a copy of the settlement agreement with George after an open records request for the information was made by The Daily Herald.
The borough also released, as requested, details on expenses incurred to deal with legal ramifications that resulted from George’s June 2004 firing.
The municipality and its representatives are unable to comment any further on the settlement due to a confidentiality clause in it. However, the agreement did provide that information can be disclosed “under a lawful duty” pursuant to state or federal law including but not limited to Pennsylvania’s Sunshine and Open Records statutes.
Solicitor Larry Clapper brought the settlement agreement before council on Monday night where it was unanimously approved. During the meeting, Mayor Patricia Stoner termed the agreement a “severance” rather than a “settlement.” After the meeting, she was unable to provide substantial additional comment due to the confidentiality clause.
Both she and Clapper were asked about expenses involved in dealing with the legal issues which resulted from George’s dismissal.
The borough released information Wednesday showing it used a $5,000 deductible from its general liability insurance to pay for legal invoices. The borough’s insurance paid for another $12,338.64, bringing total legal costs to $17,338 as of Feb. 8. The borough engaged the services of a Pittsburgh-based law firm to deal with the issue.
Finance Director Phyllis Garhart said the $17,338 does not include the $3,460.80 which will be paid to George as specified in the agreement. Garhart also said the figure regarding legal fees is not the final amount associated with the work done by its attorneys.
Garhart noted the borough spends in excess of $100,000 annually for premiums associated with various insurance policies. She noted insurance costs have risen since Sept. 11, 2001 and the borough has shopped around to keep costs down. She also said, generally speaking, the borough does not have many claims from year to year and rarely exhausts a deductible associated with a policy.
The amount being paid to George will be covered by the municipality’s insurance, according to Garhart.
The settle agreement states the borough will not take any deductions from the amount. It also notes George believes that all or a substantial portion of the money is not subject to taxation. The agreement further noted George plans to consult with tax advisors on the issue and will assume the entire risk of liability if it is deemed that all or part of the amount is subject to taxes.
George and his attorney, Joseph Cavrich of Hollidaysburg, are also bound by the confidentiality clause. When contacted earlier this week, George declined to comment on the agreement, his new job in Virginia or the council’s decision to approve the settlement. He said only that he wanted to put that “chapter” of his life behind him.
As part of the settlement, George agreed to waive the right to proceed with any current or future litigation regarding his disputed firing. In turn, the borough agreed not to pursue any causes of action which it has or might have against George.
The former manager also agreed not to seek employment with the borough of Tyrone. At one point, he had wanted to seek reinstatement with the municipality.
The borough agreed that if a potential employer contacts it about George, it will be limited in its response about his employment. The borough agreed it would provide only details on dates of employment, job title, job description and information on his salary and benefits.
George had contended he was fired during an executive session in violation of the state’s Sunshine Laws three days prior to a June 11, 2004 special meeting which was open to the public. The law requires municipalities to take official action such as dismissal during a public session. The borough contended his firing was “with cause” and was effective immediately after the council voted in public on the issue at the special meeting.
George also contended the borough had fired him because of how he dealt with personnel matters as well as issues involving borough employee morale and projects which fell under his domain.
During the June 11 public meeting and prior to council’s vote, George said, “I…believe council is retaliating against me for suggesting the borough follow its charter, in operating a council management form of government.”
After his dismissal, George retained attorney Cavrich and a Writ of Summons was filed which put the borough on notice of a lawsuit. The borough also filed documents in response and both sides met behind closed doors with a Blair County judge in July. The outcome of the meeting was an agreement that Cavrich and his client were not entitled to certain information before proceeding with the specifics of their case. There was also an indication that the next move was Cavrich’s to decide whether to file specific allegations or causes of action. Such legal moves were never initiated prior to the reaching of the settlement.
The agreement document showed George signed off on the settlement on Jan. 15. Monday’s meeting was the first one scheduled since that date for council to consider and take action on the agreement.
After George’s departure, Tyrone operated for several months without anyone in the borough manager’s chair. Last month council member Sharon Dannaway agreed to take a leave of absence from council and agreed to serve as interim borough manager at an annual salary of $40,000. The borough plans to revisit the manager’s position by mid-year If Dannaway were to be appointed permanently she would have to resign her council seat.

By Rick