Lawton sets timetable for nomination of division heads
Mar 21, 2013 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Luzerne County may finally have division chiefs in two weeks.
County Manager Robert Lawton said he will nominate someone as head of the budget and finance division by March 27, giving council members a week to review the nomination before council's next meeting April 2. Lawton added he may nominate other division heads for confirmation at that meeting.
"It will be a fairly significant affair," Lawton said.
Council members will question each nominee at the meeting before voting on confirmation, council Chairman Tim McGinley said. Council must confirm the permanent appointments of eight division heads, according to the county home-rule charter, which established a new form of government last year.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Councilman Edward Brominski again complained about division heads not being nominated last year. Holdovers from the former government continue to run divisions and offices as interim designees.
"Fifteen months!" Brominski said. "We're jerking around here!"
Lawton has said he was unable to appoint division heads during the first year of home rule because last year's budget did not fund the new jobs. Council last year also rejected Lawton's proposal that he would appoint division heads without an advertisement-and-interview process.
The county advertised for the eight division-chief jobs in January and has received more than 140 applications. Maximum annual salaries for the jobs range from $75,000 to $90,000.
Therman Guamp, a Kingston resident, said he only needed two days to review the qualifications of six finalists for the budget and finance director. He served on an applicant review committee and lectured council members for insisting on seven days to review a nominee's background.
"There are times to shuffle your feet and times to move," Guamp said.
Councilman Rick Morelli said council must thoroughly vet division-head nominees because they will remain in their positions if Lawton is no longer county manager. Morelli added he wants to know who else, in addition to Guamp, served on committees that reviewed division-head applicants.
"If I see a name -- and sometimes there are political people who may have agendas -- that's what I am trying to protect," Morelli said.
Later during Tuesday's meeting, Morelli made a motion to establish a budget and finance committee, asserting that council members need more information and knowledge about the county budget and expenditures. After his motion was defeated by a 5-4 vote, Morelli grumbled, "We're a backwards county."
"I thought we needed seven days to think it over," Councilman Eugene Kelleher replied.
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