Imagine a job that includes a six-figure salary, a generous benefits package, an interest-free loan for a new house, an SUV for personal use and the ability to award yourself no-questions-asked bonuses every year.
Welcome to Dave Bashore's world.
The manager of affluent Radnor Township, on the Main Line in Delaware County, could be fired as early as tomorrow in the wake of the discovery that he was distributing annual lump-sum payments to himself and other employees since 2000.
And Bashore had been working under a lucrative contract - which some commissioners say they never voted on - that included a $175,000 signing bonus for a down payment on a home.
"I've never seen a contract like that before, with that extent of benefits," said attorney Neil A. Morris, whom the board of commissioners appointed last year to help clean up Radnor's finances.
Bashore, a former Congressional Budget Office analyst, was suspended last week after Radnor commissioners obtained financial documents detailing nearly a decade of questionable bonuses. Last year, his total cash compensation was $177,000, including a $15,000 "miscellaneous" bonus he gave himself.
At last week's board meeting, Board President Thomas Masterson Jr. grilled Bashore about the payments and later referred the matter to District Attorney G. Michael Green. Masterson also said he was "shocked" to learn that township Solicitor David Blake's compensation had mysteriously increased this year.
"This board decided in December that there should be no increases, no raises, nobody was supposed to get any more money," Masterson said at the meeting. "And now I find out on this disbursement list that the solicitor's fee was raised $8,000. So how did that happen?"
"I'll have to look into what actually did happen and get back to you," Bashore said.
"Tell me," Masterson said. "What are the possibilities?"
"The possibilities are endless," the manager responded.
Township records show that Bashore has paid himself $128,000 in annual bonuses since 2001. Over the last four years, he has awarded more than $500,000 in bonuses to 38 employees. Bashore has said the payments were based on a policy that he drafted, but which was never approved by the board.
"There's absolutely no authority for you as township manager to be creating policy documents, signing them, dating them and putting them in a drawer and making decisions about important things like compensation to yourself without bringing it to the board's attention," Masterson said.
Bashore disagreed, citing Radnor's administrative code. On the advice of his attorney, he declined to comment this week, but in a prepared statement denied any wrongdoing.
"I am confident that a fair and impartial review of my actions – especially viewed in the context of peer municipalities and related governmental entities – will reaffirm their appropriateness," he said.
The board will meet tomorrow night and could vote to terminate Bashore.
Bashore's contract and other previously undisclosed documents were pried loose in recent months by residents who filed records requests under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law, which was strengthened this year.
"The law was finally on our side, to increase transparency," said Christina Perrone, a Democratic committeewoman who filed some of the requests. "If we found all this stuff in one month, I can't imagine what's out there."
Radnor's board of commissioners consists of five Republicans and two Democrats.
Assistant D.A. Michael Mattson confirmed that his office was reviewing the "propriety of the payments" to Bashore and other employees.
"At this time, there's no indication that any other employee has done anything improper," said Morris, the board's special counsel.
Morris, a lawyer with Archer & Greiner in Philadelphia, was appointed by the board last fall to probe the township's finances after it was revealed that employees had accumulated millions of dollars in comp time, and vacation and sick days.
Radnor Treasurer John Osborne, an elected Republican and a former FBI agent, said he had fought with the board for years to determine how money was being spent, with little success. Osborne said that his signature automatically is added to township checks, but that he now plans to sign each check by hand, "so I see what's going on."
Commissioner Harry Mahoney, who signed Bashore's 2001 contract while vice president of the board, did not return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment. Neither did Blake, who also signed the contract.
The contract included an unusual $175,000 non-interest-bearing loan for a Radnor house that Bashore wouldn't have to pay back if he held the job at least 12 years. Bashore was already the assistant township manager, but was living in Chester County.
In letters to the township's auditors, Radnor officials said they would "prefer not to disclose" details of Bashore's loan because it is a "personnel matter."