MACUNGIE BOROUGH COUNCIL Friends of the Macungie Institute bylaws being reviewed
The Friends of the Macungie Institute have found themselves under scrutiny by Macungie Borough Council, some of whom feel the group is not separated clearly from the trustees of the institute.
In particular, Debra Cope and council President Jean Nagle have been looking into an issue of the Friends' bylaws, which they claim is based on some unclear wording concerning "comingling" of trustees and voting members of the Friends, and which has hitherto been allowing the trustees too much control over who of the Friends votes and who or what they vote for.
The Friends was established to be a separate 501(c)3 legal entity from the council and from the trustees. When the council went to the trustees asking them to find more funds, the trustees came up with the Friends group to raise money for the Macungie Institute. According to council on Sept. 4, trustees may be voting members of the Friends but not serve as board members.
The issue has come up at several council meetings, and vice president Greg Hutchison has found himself a go-between for council and the board of trustees, of which he is also a member. Hutchison promised to go to the trustees and ask for a clear separation from the Friends and he says he did that. Cope, however, doesn't believe it accomplished council goals.
"They're not clearly broken up, they're not separated," Cope said. "Somehow the directors and the trustees are comingled. We're hearing of some members who don't get a vote. That's a little concerning."
Hutchison believes it sounded as though council wanted to be in charge of the Friends. But this idea Nagle firmly resisted.
"Council wants to know anything and everything and it's getting quite frustrating," Hutchison said.
Hutchison declined to answer when Nagle asked him who he thought wanted control of the Friends.
Cope and Nagle said they are in support of the Friends group but told council they are concerned at the manner of its construction.
"It's just not what we're used to seeing," Cope said at a council meeting. "It's nothing personal; it's to protect council and the borough. There's too much involvement of key people and we just don't want anything to do with that."
At a meeting Sept. 4, Nagle said she wanted the Friends and the council working together, with council advising on how to allocate money toward things the Macungie Institute needs, as was the original intention. But Nagle stressed the need for the Friends to be totally independent from both the trustees and the council.
At the Sept. 17 meeting, council accepted the resignation of Jane Leeser, a trustee of the Institute. No reason was given for her resignation.