County Extends Pedri’s Contract
NANTICOKE — David Pedri’s new contract as Luzerne County manager runs through 2022 and starts with a raise of almost 6 percent.
Luzerne County Council on Tuesday approved a four-year extension of Pedri’s employment agreement, which expires at the end of this year.
A council majority praised Pedri for doing a good job in a challenging position, citing the difficulties he faces managing 1,400 employees and the day-to-day operations of one of the largest counties in the state.
A council minority suggested there was no need to rush into approving a new contract, and criticized the length of the agreement, saying it binds the hands of future councils.
The contract will be in effect from 2019-2022.
Pedri’s salary will be $132,000 as of Jan. 1, 2019. That represents an increase of 5.7 percent over his current salary of $124,848.
Pedri will receive 2 percent raises for 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The contract includes incentives, starting in 2020, if Pedri receives a score of 80 percent or better on his performance review, and if the county completes an unqualified annual audit by June 30.
The incentive for each will be $1,000 in 2020, $1,100 in 2021 and $1,200 in 2022.
When council appointed Pedri full-time county manager in May 2016, his salary was set at $120,000. He received 2 percent raises in 2017 and 2018.
Council approved the contract extension on a 7-3 vote.
Tim McGinley, Eugene Kelleher, Robert Schnee, Jane Walsh Waitkus, Sheila Saidman, Chris Perry and Matthew Vough voted in favor.
Linda McClosky Houck, Harry Haas and Stephen A. Urban voted no. Edward Brominski was absent.
Houck criticized her fellow council members for rushing to approve the contract, noting that Pedri’s current employment agreement does not expire for more than three months.
“We had exactly seven minutes of discussion on this” in an executive session prior to Tuesday’s voting session, Houck said.
She moved to table a vote on the contract until next month, so council members could take more time to examine the proposed agreement. That motion failed, as did a motion Houck made to amend the contract to eliminate the incentives clause.
The county charter requires that the county’s audit by completed by June 30, so the county manager should not receive a bonus simply for meeting the charter’s requirements, Houck said. She called the proposed incentive bonuses “outrageous.”
Haas said his “no” vote did not reflect on Pedri personally. He said he does not support long-term contracts for any county manager, since the manager serves at the pleasure of council, to which new members are elected every two years.
“I think you are doing a great job,” Haas told Pedri. “I don’t think we should have long-term contracts for this position, tying the hands of new council members.”
McGinley, the council chairman, noted that council retains its right to fire the manager at any time, though that would require seven votes out of 11 council members.
Kelleher emphasized the challenges Pedri faces on a daily basis. The manager “must be knowledgeable in all areas of county operations,” he said.
Schnee noted that the morale of county employees has vastly improved during Pedri’s tenure.
During a public comment session prior to the vote on Pedri’s contract, Kingston resident Brian Shiner beseeched council to delay its vote until council members and the public learned more about the proposed contract.
“Why push this through? What’s the hurry?” Shiner asked.
Shiner said a vote on the contract could wait until after Pedri presents the proposed 2019 county budget in two weeks, and until the overdue county audit is completed.
He noted that Tuesday’s meeting, at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, was not televised, unlike meetings at the county courthouse, the regular meeting site.
Pedri, 39, lives in Butler Twp. 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.
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Pedri’s salary, year by year
2016: 120,000 (effective May 2016)
(Performance incentives could increase the listed salary by up to $2,000 in 2020; up to $2,200 in 2021 and up to $2,400 in 2022.)