Luzerne County Council approves new employment deal with Pedri

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
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A Luzerne County Council majority has approved a new four-year employment agreement with county Manager C. David Pedri that includes raises and performance incentives.

Pedri currently receives $124,848 under an agreement that expires at the end of this year.

According to a Thursday night presentation by Chief Solicitor Romilda Crocamo, Pedri will receive the following under the new agreement:

• A salary of $132,000 starting Jan. 1, 2019.

• 2 percent raises on Jan. 1 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

• Bonuses if an unqualified county audit is completed by June 30 — $1,000 in 2020; $1,100 in 2021 and $1,200 in 2022.

• Additional bonuses if Pedri scores 80 percent or greater on his annual performance review, which is completed by council — $1,000 in 2020; $1,100 in 2021; and $1,200 in 2022.

Under the agreement, Pedri also must provide a 30-day notice if he resigns. If his employment ends in 2019, 2020 or 2021, he would receive one month of health care coverage subject to normal deductions. He will receive two months of salary and benefits if he departs in 2022.

Council would retain its home rule charter power to terminate the manager.

With Councilman Edward Brominski absent, three council members voted against the agreement during the on-the-road meeting at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke: Stephen A. Urban, Linda McClosky Houck and Harry Haas.

The remaining council members supported the agreement: Chris Perry, Eugene Kelleher, Jane Walsh Waitkus, Matthew Vough, Robert Schnee, Tim McGinley and Sheila Saidman.

Pedri sat silently during the debate but thanked employees and council members after the vote for their commitment and trust. He said he will continue focusing on long-term goals.

“I’m proud of our accomplishments, and I’m excited where we’re going to go,” Pedri said.

Kelleher, who chaired an ad-hoc council committee that negotiated the agreement, emphasized Pedri’s extensive responsibilities in the position and commended his performance.

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.

Kelleher said he has a lengthy list of Pedri’s accomplishments, including the additional assessment of more than $10 million in missed property through a new computer program and recouping of $166,000 from past homestead tax breaks that were improperly granted.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” Kelleher said.

Schnee said he hears positive public reviews about Pedri’s performance and credited Pedri for boosting employee morale and public trust in county government.

McClosky Houck unsuccessfully attempted to table a vote on the agreement and amend the package to remove the incentives, saying there’s no rush and that “outrageous” bonuses should not be paid for audit work that is already required by the home rule charter. She said council spent only seven minutes discussing the proposal in executive session and suggested holding off until Pedri presents the proposed 2019 budget next month.

Urban concurred, asserting the manager already was “well compensated” for a public service position. He also said increased employee satisfaction stems largely from raises that come at a price.

The manager’s initial increase to $132,000 amounts to $7,152, or 5.73 percent.

The subsequent raises, along with the new salary: 2020, $2,640, $134,640; 2021, $2,693, $137,333; and 2022, $2,747, $140,080.

McClosky Houck noted the increase equates to 12 percent over four years.

Haas said Pedri is “doing a great job without a doubt” and moving the county in a positive direction. However, he does not believe a four-year manager agreement should be locked in because the manager serves at the “pleasure of council,” and five or six council members are elected every two years based on the will of voters.

“This is not personal,” Haas said.

Citizens Brian Shiner and Mark Rabo also criticized the contract, saying it was excessive and advanced too quickly without sufficient public review and comment. Tuesday’s meeting was not televised because it was not at the courthouse, Shiner said.

“Why push this through? What’s the hurry?” Shiner asked.

Pedri
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091318Pedri2-8.jpgPedri

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

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

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