Luzerne County Council aims to vote on hiring a new superintendent at its March 22 meeting, according to its new selection plan.
Council expects to approve the plan at its meeting on Tuesday, the same day it expects to receive a list of qualified candidates from the search committee of seven citizens.
The drafters of the county self-government charter required an outside committee to select and recommend qualified candidates, believing the approach would make the selection more impartial and less vulnerable to political interference. The board must then conduct its own review of the finalists, with seven of the board’s 11 votes – a majority plus one – required to hire the manager.
“We want to make sure we have a thorough interview process to hire the right candidate for the director position,” board chair Kendra Radle said Saturday.
“The manager search committee presents us with what we hope will be very high profile candidates, and it is very important that this process is organized and set in motion, because we are making what could be the most important decision to which the board faces so far this year. “said Radle.
According to the selection plan proposed by the board:
The Council will immediately forward the names it receives from the committee on Tuesday to the county’s human resources department to conduct background checks.
The committee will also be asked to send the board all supporting documentation about the recommended candidates, including their resumes, ranking categories, and the results of their external personality assessments.
The council expects to receive the results of the background check on March 1. Human Resources should forward the results to board members for review.
On March 3, the board will hold an executive in camera session to review all documentation.
The next day, the board will contact applicants to schedule in-person interviews to take place the week of March 14.
For interviews, the board plans to use an evaluation and ranking system based on that used by the search committee.
The committee measured a wide range of qualities with ratings of unskilled, somewhat skilled, skilled and highly skilled, said committee chair Chris Hackett.
Once the board interviews are complete, the board plans to hold another executive session on March 21 to discuss the interviews and their ranking.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the hiring vote would take place the following evening.
At some point, the board must also address the topic of compensation.
The position was advertised up to $185,000, which is the maximum allowed under the charter. Former manager C. David Pedri was receiving an annual salary of $137,333 when he resigned to take another job in July.
When the board voted to hire Pedri in May 2016, the meeting agenda contained a resolution with blank lines to insert the chosen person’s name and salary.
A majority of the board approved a salary of $120,000 and an offer letter that included 2% raises in 2017 and 2018.
The board also voted at the same meeting to disband the search committee.
The search committee is due to wrap up its in-person interviews with four finalists on Monday and decide which candidates it will forward to the board that day.
It is free to forward any number of qualified candidates to the council as there is no minimum or maximum in the charter.
Romilda Crocamo served as acting county director and declined to say whether she had applied for the job out of respect for the committee’s decision to maintain confidentiality.
At least three finalists reside outside of Pennsylvania.
Filling two vacant division chief positions is one of the most pressing decisions the new director faces.
Edmund O’Neill resigned as head of the operational services division last month, and former head of the administrative services division, David Parsnik, left in September.
Crocamo did not seek permanent replacements, saying the decision should be up to the next permanent manager.
Under the House Rule, the board must confirm the director’s nominees for the eight division chief positions for the hires to take effect.
The Chief of Operational Services oversees engineering, roads and bridges, planning and zoning, 911, emergency management, buildings and grounds, boiler room and solid waste management.
Administrative services cover elections, human resources, purchasing/acquisitions, information technology, licensing/permits, records, grant applications, community development and tourism.
Tuesday’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council meeting room at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre. Instructions for attending the meeting remotely are posted under the Online Council Meetings link on luzernecounty.org.