With his employment agreement up for renewal, C. David Pedri said he wants to publicly present why he believes he has been effective as Luzerne County’s top manager.
A 39-year-old Butler Township resident, Pedri views the milestone as a sort of re-election campaign, even though the manager is an appointed position under the county’s home rule structure implemented in January 2012. Pedri, who marked his two-year anniversary as the second non-interim manager in May, previously worked as chief county solicitor.
“Public service is a privilege. It’s not something you’re entitled to,” Pedri said. “I’d like to think in my two years here, based upon a lot of support from county council, that we have gotten a lot of stuff accomplished.”
Describing his management as “results driven,” Pedri said he never had patience for governmental entities “talking and talking and then getting nothing done.”
He pointed to his resolution of several issues that had been festering for years: repairing interior courthouse damage, obtaining settlements from baseball franchise litigation and an expired tax-break and moving records into a new, climate-controlled county facility.
Investing dwindling capital funding on courthouse restoration and a records facility was warranted, he argued.
“It’s spending money wisely and doing things in the right locations,” Pedri said.
The county deficit, which was $16 million when he became manager, should be cleared by the end of this year with the help of year-end surpluses, he predicted. Pedri also highlighted the county’s securing of an investment-grade credit rating, refinancing to eliminate variable-rate debt and payment of overdue employee pension fund subsidies as other fiscal successes.
His administration is faithfully implementing recommendations in a five-year financial recovery plan, including flagging missed property assessments through a computer program and identifying unused county-owned property that can be sold or used to house billboards to generate county revenue, he said.
Implementation of the first employee reviews for workers under his umbrella, online job applications, a free online assessment mapping database, updated website and 90-day goals were among the other achievements he cited.
Pedri is meeting with a council committee Friday to discuss his employment agreement, which would require council approval for passage. He declined to discuss what compensation he is willing to accept, citing pending negotiations.
Hired at a salary of $120,000, the agreement expiring the end of this year provided 2 percent raises in 2017 and 2018, bringing his current compensation to $124,848.
Under home rule, the manager approves many contracts, oversees day-to-day operations and hires and fires workers in most departments. The county has a $300 million budget, with human service branches included, 1,400 workers and more than 50 departments, he said.
He said his progress would not be possible without his staff and council, saying the 11-member elected body must make difficult decisions to fund initiatives.
Born and raised in the county, the father of three said he wants to continue making changes in his home county.
Speaking engagements and participation in community events are important to stay connected to people served, Pedri said, laughingly mentioning his competition in the “Dancing Stars of Wilkes-Barre” fundraiser in 2016 as an example.
His time as manager was punctuated with several emergencies — the first Susquehanna River ice jam flooding in years, a tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township, a courthouse bomb scare, three water main breaks, blizzards and a firebombing at the Children and Youth offices.
Pedri said he’s not one to sit still and embraces the demands, even if it means he can’t listen to the radio on his commute because the phone won’t stop ringing.
“That’s one of the best things about the job. It’s literally something different every single day,” Pedri said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.