An ousted chief executive officer wants to rebuild his power base at the bank once controlled by his family.
C. Edward Dunmire, former CEO and president of Peoples Financial Corp., Ford City, Pa., is asking shareholders to vote for a slate of eight directors that would give him a majority.
The bank's annual meeting is scheduled for today.
Mr. Dunmire, who was fired a year ago for unspecified reasons, could not be reached for comment. For three years the $199 million-asset bank has been buying back shares held by his family.
"We are still living with the legacy of Mr. Dunmire and his family as we start to make what we believe are needed changes," said R.B. Robertson, chairman and CEO, in a March 28 letter to shareholders. In a telephone interview, he declined to elaborate.
In the letter, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Robertson said the bank had reduced personnel expenses by almost $700,000 per year. More than $300,000 of the cut was from Mr. Dunmire's compensation, which Mr. Robertson said equaled about 10% of total work force expense.
"Over the last 10 years of Dunmire family stewardship, the bank has been operated on a champagne capital budget," Mr. Robertson said. "Conversely, going forward, we intend to live strictly within our means, while continuing to give the best possible service to our customers."
In the letter, Mr. Robertson took issue with a number of allegations he claimed Mr. Dunmire has made, saying the former CEO was incorrect in alleging that the bank suffers from inexperienced management and a faulty credit process.
Other small banks that have lately been embroiled in fights with former officials include Golden Isles Financial Holdings Inc. in coastal Brunswick, Ga., and Mason-Dixon Bancshares in Maryland.
Golden Isles' founders, who were also its top executives, lost their bid to regain control in a shareholder vote last month. The two men, who were not native Georgians, were up against a majority of local residents.
Mason-Dixon has been fighting off a dissident shareholders group that wants it to consider selling. A former officer is leading the group waging a high-profile battle with current management