Bob Panek at last September's PSA information meeting at the Cheriton Fire Hall. He did not attend yesterday's Board of Supervisors meeting. (Wave photo)

Bob Panek at last September’s PSA information meeting at the Cheriton Fire Hall. He did not attend yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. (Wave photo)

PSA Funding Is Stopped Until Change of Leadership

Cape Charles Wave

January 28, 2014

Northampton County Board of Supervisors effectively ended Bob Panek’s Public Service Authority chairmanship yesterday by voting to “stop all future funding until there is a change of leadership in the PSA.” Newly elected Board Chairman Larry LeMond made the motion, which was seconded by Larry Trala and passed unanimously.

The previous Board Chairman, Willie Randall, had maintained that the Supervisors had no power to dictate who chairs the PSA, because PSA members elect their own chairman. Randall lost his seat in the November election to Granville Hogg, and the deciding factor in that upset seems to have been the PSA issue.

The new Board of Supervisors simply used the power of the purse. The PSA is financed wholly by the County, and without funds it can do nothing. Although Panek technically remains chairman, a refusal by him to step down would be a Pyrrhic victory, since the PSA could no longer function.

The opposition to Panek centered on the fact that he is also the assistant town manager for the Town of Cape Charles. A Wave editorial (click to read) addressed the issue last September, maintaining that Town Council’s appointment of Panek to the PSA “violates the principle of separation between a paid public employee and an elected or appointed official.”

Under Panek’s leadership, the PSA turned a deaf ear to public outcry.  Last September 17, some 100 residents came to the Cheriton Fire Hall to oppose PSA plans to establish a sewer district around the Route 13-Cheriton area that could increase property taxes in the special district by almost 100 percent. Despite the universal outcry at the meeting, the PSA met immediately afterward to unanimously approve a $70,000 contract with the engineering firm Hurt & Profitt to begin surveying the sewer project. [Read more…]