Luzerne County seeking temporary manager

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | December 16th, 2015 6:53 pm

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

An advertisement seeking an interim county manager popped up on Luzerne County’s website Wednesday, although the council did not agree or vote on a plan to seek one in a public meeting.

There has been no public discussion on what the selected person may be paid, the specific duties or the reason for bringing in someone from the outside instead of relying on an existing staffer.

County Manager Robert Lawton has resigned, effective Dec. 31, and had designated county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik as the acting manager.

County officials had brought in former county budget/finance chief Tom Pribula as interim manager before Lawton was hired when the home rule government was implemented in January 2012, but the county had no division heads to temporarily fill the role at that time.

County Councilman Rick Morelli, who leaves office the end of the year, said he believes the matter was wrongly discussed in closed-door executive session after Tuesday’s council work session.

The state Sunshine Act says official action resulting from discussions held in executive session must be taken at an open meeting. Morelli said the decision to publicly seek advertisements for an interim manager is an official action.

“This should have been discussed at a public meeting, not behind the scene,” Morelli said. “There’s no emergency to get an interim manager in place.”

Morelli also said he believes a decision on whether to retain a temporary outside manager should be made when three newly elected council members join the council in January. County officials have estimated the recruitment and selection process will take 25 to 28 weeks.

Council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck said during Tuesday’s work session that the council must have plans in place for an interim manager “to step in and be signer on pertinent documents” effective Jan. 1. She said the transition plan would be discussed in executive session because it involves “specific personnel.”

The council isn’t scheduled to publicly meet again until Dec. 29, although council members were informed there will be another executive session at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

According to the posting at, the council is accepting letters of interest for the temporary, full-time position that begins Jan. 1 and ends when a new manager is appointed. Interested applicants have until 4 p.m. Monday to submit letters of interest.

Qualified applicants should have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of relevant work experience.

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