Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Hanover Loses Another Township Supervisor

Photo by Evan Brandt

Ralph Fluharty exists the New Hanover Township building after his surprise resignation Monday night. 

Only four months after Township Supervisors Chairman Doug Mueller abruptly stepped down from the board, another supervisor has made a surprise resignation.

This time it was veteran board member Ralph Fluharty, who has served the township for 31 years between his time on the township planning commission and then on the board of supervisors.

The resignation came as Fluharty sparred with the other supervisors over spending on road paving.

As the other supervisors scrambled to understand the finances involved -- with Supervisor Andrew Kelly at one point calling it "a shell game" -- Fluharty argued the cost of paving materials is currently so low more roads should be paved while "we have the men and the equipment."

But the resignation evidently was not entirely spontaneous.

After Fluharty stopped conversation cold by telling Chairman Phil Agliano "well, I've got another problem for you. I'm resigning my post," he pulled out a prepared statement which he proceeded to read.

Here's some of it on video:

Agliano said he would not consider accepting Fluharty's resignation until the end of the meeting "after Ralph has had a chance to calm down."

But after the meeting wore on, the supervisors adjourned to an executive session, Fluharty did not join them and instead listened with a smile on his face while others tried to convince him to change his mind.

Outside the meeting room, Fluharty, 82, said he was done.

He said the township's reserve fund has now grown to $1.6 million, which he considers a good thing, but only if the money gets used for things the township needs when the time is right.

Fluharty after making his announcement.
The low cost of paving materials this year would have allowed for the paving of many extra miles of "poor roads" in the township  -- he was advocating for Swamp Picnic Road Monday night -- but the other supervisors insistence on cleaving to budget estimates made when the price was unknown costs valuable time.

"We should act on it," he said. "I hope things go well for them, but I am apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time."

After the executive session, the board was advised by solicitor Andrew Bellowoar that if they did not act to accept Fluharty's resignation, it would leave his status an open question and prevent the board from naming a replacement.

Ultimately, the board voted unanimously, "with great reluctance," to accept Fluharty's resignation.

They then voted to authorize interim manager Greg Prowant to advertise for those interested in applying with a letter -- and resume -- Supervisor Charles D. Garner Jr. emphasized.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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