Luzerne County hires three more top managers

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | July 12th, 2016 10:40 pm

With three new hirings confirmed Tuesday, Luzerne County government now has all eight top division heads in place.

“Today is the first day of a new chapter,” county Manager C. David Pedri said after the county council approved his three nominees Tuesday. “Wait until you see what we can do.”

The new hires and their salaries: Romilda Crocamo, chief solicitor, $90,000; Edmund O’Neill, operational services, $85,000; and Mark Rockovich, correctional services, $80,000.

Council members interviewed the nominees in closed-door executive session before the meeting and then asked them several questions during the public session.

O’Neill, of Wyoming, has a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and master’s degree in business administration and has been employed at Kuharchik Construction Inc. in Exeter since May 2006, most recently as office manager/controller.

Seven council members confirmed his nomination, with no votes from Edward Brominski, Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas and Stephen A. Urban.

Urban questioned the elimination of a requirement for the division head to hold a professional engineer license. Pedri said he made the change because his focus was on management experience and the licensing wasn’t required by the county’s home rule government.

Rockovich received unanimous council approval, although Urban warned he will call for the correction overseer’s resignation if more scandals surface at the prison.

Federal authorities recently charged former prison employee Louis Elmy with extortion and possession of a firearm in furtherance of selling crack cocaine. Prosecutors said Elmy, while acting in his official role as a prison work-release counselor, extorted money and other items of value from work release inmates in exchange for giving them special privileges and unauthorized furloughs.

Rockovich, of West Hazleton, said he will conduct a “very stern” review of the Elmy matter and implement corrective action. He also pledged to address council concerns about controlling prison costs and complaints from some staff about unfair treatment.

“I feel the same way about inmates. Everyone needs to be treated fairly and with respect, and I don’t think that will be a problem for my administration,” Rockovich said.

He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has worked at the county correctional facility since 1991, rising through the ranks to records captain.

Crocamo, of Conyngham, assured the council she will provide unbiased legal opinions and said she does not foresee conflicts serving both the legislative and executive branches.

“My analysis will be my analysis,” she said.

She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in addition to a law degree and master’s of law degree. Crocamo has worked at two New York City law firms, was managing attorney at the Barbara J. Hart Justice Center in Scranton, has served as a master of county juvenile delinquency and dependency court and is currently a law clerk for county Court of Common Pleas Judge Tina Polachek Gartley.

Eight council members confirmed the nomination, with Urban, Brominski and Dobash voting no. Urban said he wants a chief solicitor with direct experience in municipal law. Crocamo noted she has been involved in zoning and municipal law matters as a law clerk.

In other business, Brominski requested a legal opinion on Pedri’s plans to provide raises to four other division heads. He said the council confirmed the division heads at specific salaries and should be involved in pay adjustments.

Pedri said the manager has authority under the charter to provide raises if he can identify available funding in the budget allocated by the council.

The raises are part of a second phase implementing non-union salary adjustments recommended in a 2015 outside compensation study, Pedri told the council. The raises will cost the general fund operating budget $19,125 this year in addition to expenses covered by state and federal reimbursements, he said.

According to county records and a report Pedri issued to the council:

• David Parsnik, who has been working as administrative services division head since May 2013, will receive a $12,000 increase, bringing his compensation to $82,00.

• Joan Hoggarth, who was appointed judicial services and records division head in May 2013, is receiving a $10,000 raise that increases her salary to $80,000.

• Brian Swetz, the county’s budget/finance division head since January 2014, will receive a $2,500 raise that brings his salary to $87,500.

• Steven Greenwald, appointed chief public defender in April 2013, also will receive a $2,500 increase, boosting his compensation to $92,500.

Nineteen other workers will receive raises in this phase, with most — 15 — totaling $2,500.

Michael Donahue, the remaining division head overseeing human services, was hired last month at $87,000.

Pedri: ‘Wait until you see what we can do’

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.