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Pedri Likely To Stay Onas County Manager

September 16, 2018

Pedri Likely To Stay Onas County Manager

It seems almost certain David Pedri will remain Luzerne County manager after his current employment agreement expires at the end of the year. A Luzerne County council committee is working on a new contract for Pedri, according to Councilman Eugene Kelleher, the committee chairman. The three-member committee — Jane Walsh Waitkus, Chris Perry and Kelleher — hopes to have a proposed contract for council to consider at its next meeting on Sept. 25, Kelleher said. The county manager serves at the pleasure of county council, according to the county’s home rule charter. Pedri, 39, of Butler Twp., met with the committee on Friday. He said the meeting resulted in “good progress” but no final agreement was reached. Neither Pedri nor Kelleher would discuss specifics of the proposed contract, citing ongoing negotiations. No other candidates were considered for the job, according to Kelleher. He said Pedri’s performance since council appointed him to lead the county’s executive branch in May 2016 has been excellent. “I personally think the guy’s doing a good job,” Kelleher said. “He’s got a tough job to do.” Kelleher said Pedri took over as manager under difficult circumstances, when morale among county employees was at low ebb. “Morale has improved under his leadership,” Kelleher said. “He’s working his butt off, working his best for the county.” Not all council members have supported Pedri and his plans. Eight of the 11 sitting council members were in office when council named Pedri manager. Five of them — Kelleher, Waitkus, Tim McGinley, Harry Haas and Robert Schnee — voted in favor, while three — Linda McClosky Houck, Edward Brominski and Stephen A. Urban — voted no. The three council members elected last year — Perry, Matthew Vough and Sheila Saidman — often vote in support of initiatives Pedri favors, such as a $5 vehicle registration surcharge to raise funds for road repairs that council enacted in May. Houck, who emerged this year as a vocal critic of some of Pedri’s actions, especially a contract he negotiated with a new provider of payroll services for the county, said she expects council to approve a new contract for Pedri soon. “I personally think he is not going anywhere,” she said. “He’s got the support of a majority of council.” The county manager has a lot of authority under the home rule form of government which took effect in 2012, Houck said. “There are not a lot of checks on his power,” she said. “And I don’t think council should give up any of its checks on the manager.” Pedri said he has learned to be practical and results-oriented in his two-plus years managing county operations, including about 1,400 employees. As an example, he cited a system of employee performance evaluations he implemented last year, for the first time. He also cited the completion of an urgently needed repair and renovation project at the county courthouse. Pedri said he plans to work with department heads to streamline operations and cut expenses wherever possible. He vowed not to request any new positions in the 2019 county budget when he submits it to council next month. Pedri earns $124,848 per year. He was hired at a salary of $120,000 per year, then received raises of 2 percent in 2017 and 2018, as stipulated in his employment agreement. He served as interim county manager in early 2016, before being appointed to the position full-time. Prior to that, he served as chief county solicitor. Contact the writer: emark@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2117

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