Pedri removes engineer requirement from vacant Luzerne County division head posting

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Luzerne County acting Manager C. David Pedri has re-advertised the operational services division head position at a higher salary without a past requirement for applicants to hold a Pennsylvania professional engineer license.

Pedri stressed Thursday he has not ruled out the three finalists he already interviewed but is attempting to widen the applicant pool.

“We want to ensure we have reviewed the broadest range of applicants possible,” Pedri said.

Initially $70,000 to $85,000, the salary range is $80,000 to $90,000 in the new ad posted on the open positions section of the county website,

Applicants previously were required to be eligible for a Pennsylvania professional engineer license and obtain a license within one year of appointment. Licensing requires passage of an engineering fundamentals test, apprenticeship under a licensed professional engineer and completion of a lengthy exam, engineers say.

Pedri said he does not believe an engineer license is necessary for the management post because the division head is primarily responsible for the oversight of facilities and employees, “as opposed to engineering duties.”

The operational services division head oversees engineering, roads and bridges, planning and zoning, 911, emergency management, building and grounds and security in addition to any county environmental or recreation projects.

The county’s home rule charter and council-adopted administrative code don’t require an engineer license for the position, Pedri said. The council’s personnel code says the administration — not the council — sets qualifications for vacant positions.

The county already has a licensed engineer — Larry Plesh — on staff and access to the expertise of other licensed engineers who handle county projects as independent contractors, Pedri said.

The first two operational division heads under the county’s home rule structure met the license requirement.

Tanis Manseau, who received $85,000 in the post, was a licensed engineer in South Carolina when he was hired in May 2014 and received his Pennsylvania license in December that year, state records show. Manseau resigned in October.

Christopher Belleman, who was paid $75,000, already held a license when he was hired as operational division head in July 2013. He resigned as division head in September 2014 to become county Flood Protection Authority executive director.

Several years before home rule, the county had three licensed engineers on staff — Belleman, Jim Brozena and Joe Gibbons. Gibbons and Brozena, who also served as flood authority overseer before Belleman, left county government to pursue other work opportunities.

A majority of the 11-member county council must confirm the acting manager’s division head nominees before they take effect.

County Councilman Rick Williams, a state-licensed architect, said he has no problem with the new advertisement because someone without an engineer license may have the knowledge and skills to oversee the division.

“I support providing the administration with flexibility to find the best people to fill positions,” Williams said.

The first review of operational division head applicants is March 30, according to the new job posting.

Pedri said he expects to present a division head nominee to the council in early April.

The county is accepting applications for two other division head posts.

Human Services Division Head David Schwille is retiring April 7, and J. Allen Nesbitt recently resigned as correctional services division head.

The advertised salary range is $80,000 to $90,000 for both positions, and the first review of applicants also is March 30.

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

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

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