Search for flood protection chief begins

June 25th, 2015 8:33 am

First Posted: 1/16/2013

WILKES-BARRE – The search is on for a new executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, though the county's old flood czar may be back in the meantime.

At its first public meeting since Executive Director Jim Brozena's abrupt retirement announcement Dec. 18, the authority voted to advertise for a new director and to enter negotiations with Brozena to act as a consultant during the transition.

A job description and desired qualifications will be sent to local newspapers and professional engineering journals and posted to the Luzerne County website within several days, with an application deadline of Feb. 5.

Authority Chairman Stephen A. Urban said he believes the application window is adequate, especially given the media attention to Brozena's retirement, and said the board needs to fill the opening quickly because of pending levee projects and the ever-present flood threat.

You never know when you can get a flood event, Urban said. The other issue is there's a lot of ongoing buyout projects going on.

The county is seeking an applicant with a bachelor's degree in engineering, a Pennsylvania professional engineer's license and at least five years of progressive administrative responsibility, according to the ad draft approved Tuesday.

The applicant must also be a certified flood plain manager or be able to attain that certification within one year.

The advertisement lists a minimum annual salary of $70,000 per year; Brozena received $79,277 a year.

The authority also voted to authorize its solicitor, Christopher Cullen, to negotiate a consulting contract with Brozena during the search for a new authority chief and transition to new leadership. Urban said it is unlikely Brozena will be a consultant for more than 90 days.

County Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons also is assisting the authority during the transition, Gibbons and authority vice chairman Kevin O'Brien said.

In other business:

• The authority authorized the payment of $5,895 to Cullen for work on the defense of three citizen members appointed by County Council or the former commissioners in the county district attorney's probe of their right to hold office.

Council voted to ask County Manager Robert Lawton to initiate the court action because the state never approved pre-home rule article of incorporation changes amending the board's makeup. Urban's seat, which he kept because he formerly served on the board as a county commissioner, is also in question.

Citizen Brian Shiner objected to the use of levee fees to pay Cullen. Urban said the authority has an obligation to defend its members in legal matters pertaining to their duties in office. Cullen said law permits use of those fees for the defense.

What's next

The Flood Protection Authority will next meet at 11 a.m. Feb. 18 at the Emergency Management Agency Building, 185 Water St., Wilkes-Barre.