Nanticoke Mayor Richard Wiaterowski planned to try to have Andy Gegaris fired if he didn’t agree to leave the city manager position on his own, according to a newly released settlement agreement recently approved by the city council.
Gegaris decided to resign, but he and the city entered into the settlement agreement to “amicably resolve any and all existing and/or potential disputes” associated with his employment and separation, it said.
Under the agreement, Gegaris, who was hired as city manager in May 2014, will remain on paid administrative leave until Feb. 4. He has been on leave since Jan. 6.
City officials have publicly indicated the position paid $65,000, but it was budgeted at $62,000 in 2016, city records show.
The agreement also says:
• Gegaris must be reimbursed for all accrued but unused vacation and personal time.
• The city won’t contest unemployment compensation benefits sought by Gegaris.
• Gegaris waives any right to sue over his city employment and separation.
• The city will provide Gegaris with a positive recommendation letter and provide a positive employment recommendation to any prospective employers inquiring about his city employment.
Under the city’s home rule charter, the mayor can’t simply fire the manager.
The charter says the mayor must recommend termination to the council and submit the reasons for the proposed dismissal.
The manager has the opportunity to publicly address the council about the proposed termination and respond to issues raised by the mayor, the charter says.
A “supermajority” council vote — four out of five — is required to terminate the manager under the charter.
The mayor selects the manager, but his appointee is subject to council confirmation, the charter says. If the council fails to act on a nominee within 30 days, the mayor’s nominee is automatically hired, the charter says.
The manager must be a full-time employee and report directly to the mayor.
City officials said human resources director Donna Wall has been appointed as acting city manager for six months.
Former Luzerne County controller Walter Griffith, who owns an auto repair business in the city, requested and released a copy of the settlement agreement Friday and said he’s frustrated officials have not provided specifics on the reason for the personnel change.
“There are still unanswered questions, but they won’t answer them, saying it is a confidential personnel matter,” Griffith said. “None of this is transparent to the people of Nanticoke, and I just don’t think that’s fair.”
Griffith said he will continue monitoring city matters, largely because the city had the highest overall real estate tax millage increase among the county’s 76 municipalities this year.
The city’s millage went from 4.8885 to 5.9258. A mill is $1 tax for every $1,000 in assessed property. That means the municipal tax bill on a $100,000 property in Nanticoke will rise from $488.85 to $592.58 this year — a $104 increase, or 21 percent.
“That was a heck of a high tax increase in a community that’s mostly senior citizens on fixed incomes,” Griffith said.
Times Leader staff writer Melanie Mizenko contributed to this report.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.