C. David Pedri appears to have the votes necessary to be appointed Luzerne County’s next top manager this evening, according to interviews with several council members.
The council is set to meet in closed-door executive session before the 6 p.m. voting meeting at the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
Seven of 11 council votes — a majority plus one — are required to appoint a manager.
The council interviewed two finalists furnished by a citizen manager search committee required by the home rule charter — Pedri, of Butler Township, and Jeffrey D. Beck, of Mountain Top.
David W. Johnston, of Washington, the third initial finalist supplied by the search committee, withdrew, saying he was pursuing other opportunities.
Pedri, the county’s chief county solicitor, has been serving as acting county manager since January, following Robert Lawton’s Dec. 31 resignation as the first permanent manager under the customized home rule government implemented in January 2012.
Pedri previously ran a private family law practice and worked as deputy county district attorney.
Some county employees are expected to attend tonight’s meeting as a show of support for Pedri.
Many workers praise his efforts to understand and promote their work, rebuild morale, speed up decision-making, fill vacant positions and establish clear goals.
Beck also has received some community support, particularly for his financial background. He has a master’s degree in business administration, owned a cleaning franchise company and previously had served as president and board director of Advanta Bank Corp.
The proposed resolution hiring a manager also includes a blank space for the starting salary, which hasn’t been set.
The position was advertised at an unusually broad salary range — $96,565 to $175,572 — because the county council decided to stick with the compensation wording in the charter.
The charter says the salary can’t exceed the elected district attorney’s compensation or be less than 55 percent of the district attorney’s salary, which is $175,572 this year.
The county budgeted $160,000 for the manager position in 2016. Lawton had received $110,000. Pedri received $90,000 as solicitor.
Under home rule, the county manager oversees day-to-day finances and operations and hires and oversees employees who are not controlled by the court, controller or district attorney. The exceptions: the council hires and manages a council clerk and must vote to confirm the manager’s nominees for eight division head posts.
The manager also prepares a budget for the council’s consideration. The manager doesn’t have to come to council for approval on purchases if he has enough budgeted funds to cover them unless the expenditures would cost the county $25,000 in a future year or $75,000 in two or more years.
The next manager faces major financial hurdles. The county needs revenue to clear out a deficit pegged at $16.9 million at the end of 2014 and to cover rising expenses, such as a growing pension fund subsidy. The county’s 2016 budget also relied on $7 million in revenue that won’t be available again or is earmarked for other purposes.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.