Harrison manager hire cites ‘risk’ in declining job offer

November 9, 2018

Harrison commissioners on Monday accepted the resignation of the township’s first manager, although he never actually started the job.

Commissioners in September approved hiring J.P. Marino II to fill the newly created position of township manager, but Marino later declined the job that was to pay $80,000 a year.

In an emailed response to an earlier request for comment, Marino, 36, of Tarentum said he decided to not accept the position after consulting with his family and others.

“There were many reasons that factored into my decision such as the contract language, risk, lack of previous business structure at the township and, of course, the lack of stability this position would provide for me and my family,” he said.

Marino and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, a son, 10, and a daughter, 6.

Marino said the terms of the proposed contract would put him at risk of being terminated without cause.

“My agenda and plan for the future required changes to the way in which business has been conducted for the past few decades as well as the internal controls and work environment needing some restructuring,” he said. “I understand that these positions are ‘at will’ and that I was presented with a standard contract offer; however, the township is in a unique position and requires some necessary internal reviews and restructuring.

“When you pair my agenda with that type of contract, it puts my career and future at great risk.”

Without a manager, Marino noted that commissioners have been responsible for handling things such as public works and police contracts, economic planning and grant writing.

“Very basic business practices are currently not in place and it currently lacks internal business structure,” he said. “When you are told that there are no computer files and not much to go by from the past, you reconsider what exactly you will be walking into.”

On Monday, commissioners approved hiring Edward Kirkwood as Harrison’s interim manager. He started Oct. 15.

Commissioners President Bill Heasley said Kirkwood will be paid $65 per hour for working up to three days per week, six hours per day -- although he said Kirkwood’s schedule could be “fluid.”

Kirkwood of Butler Township retired as manager there in September. He had previously been manager in Lower Burrell.

Kirkwood also was made Harrison’s collector of local service tax and chief administrative officer for the police and non-uniformed pension plans, replacing Marino. He also was named as the township’s right-to-know officer; township Secretary Susan Motosicky was named deputy right-to-know officer.

Harrison is relaunching its search for a manager, doing it on its own this time. The township had paid Pittsburgh-based Public Partners $5,000 to conduct the search that lead to Marino’s hiring.

Other applicants who had applied and been considered with Marino are either no longer available or no longer interested, according to Heasley.

The job posting on the township’s website says five years of municipal management or experience in a related field is required. Marino had no municipal management experience, having worked in the banking and financial field.

The township is accepting resumes until the position is filled, according to the notice.

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