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Monessen Pension Problems Worsen As Mayor Remains Out Of Sight

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MONESSEN (KDKA) -- Yet another abbreviated session of the Monessen City Council Thursday evening because of continued bickering over who should replace a councilman who recently died.

So, more unfinished business.

The first-term Monessen Mayor for the sixth time was again a "no-show," as was one member of the city council.

"We asked the governor a longtime ago to intercede. We've heard nothing," Monessen City Councilman Anthony Orzechowski said. "Bills keep piling up, things don't get paid. The city still runs, thank God."

KDKA's Ralph Iannotti Reports:


Earlier in the day Thursday, State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Monessen's pension plan contract bidding process was flawed, it was not managed correctly and he questioned how the city replaced its long-term investment firm a year ago.

monessen city council
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Because of that -- and until the city returns $54,000 to the police pension fund which was wrongly awarded to a retired police officer -- DePasquale said he would withhold future state pension aid from Monessen until the issue is resolved.

"With regards to the pension transfer, the auditor general made a recommendation that the city rebid the request for a proposal," City Solicitor Joseph Dalfonso said. "Obviously, it would be my legal recommendation for the city to take that action the next time they have quorum."

Late Thursday night and after council's meeting had ended, Mayor Shorraw reached out to KDKA-TV.

"My absence at the July 12th meeting has no bearing on the police fund," Shorraw said in an emailed statement. "That damage was done by the previous mayor and council."

Shorraw went on to say that any action to address the pension issues can wait until a vacancy on Monessen City Council is filled. That could happen early next month.

Regarding the $54,000 from the police pension fund that went to a retired policeman, the man who was mayor when the money was awarded said the payment was not his decision. The decision was made by the police pension board and another city official.

"Obviously, it's got to be repaid, there's no doubt about that," said former mayor Lou Mavrakis, who lost in his bid for re-election last fall. "I talked to the officer in question and he didn't have the money to pay back. He wanted me to reinstate him full time, I couldn't do that."

"The city has reached out to officials, the District Attorney's office in Westmoreland County and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office," Dalfonso said. "Hopefully, they will look into that. Because, quite frankly, the city is on the hook for repaying that money."

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