All non-union Luzerne County government employees must work at least 37.5 per week effective Jan. 2, and the administration will attempt to negotiate the change into union contracts as they expire, county council decided Tuesday.
Full-time county employees currently work anywhere from 32.5 to 40 hours a week depending on the position and department.
Most non-union workers at the courthouse follow a schedule of 32.5 hours, but non-union prison staffers are at 35 hours. Human service non-union employees have been at 37.5 hours for years.
County Manager Robert Lawton has vowed to streamline and reduce staff to compensate for paying some employees to work more.
Council had planned to make the new directive effective within 30 days but changed to Jan. 2 to allow Lawton more time to develop a plan and factor changes into the 2014 budget.
Lawton announced Tuesday he has appointed deputy budget/finance director Donna Magni the interim budget/finance division head because senior accountant Brian Swetz isn’t permitted to serve in the temporary division head post for more than 90 days. Swetz was made interim budget head in June.
Magni, who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting, was hired as deputy in February 2011 at $40,000 and won’t receive an increase to handle the temporary division head duties.
She will be instrumental in preparation of the 2014 budget because Lawton expects the yet-to-be-hired professional recruiter to be seeking budget/finance division head applicants through Nov. 15.
Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri told council the emails council members send to each other will be publicly posted on the county website, www.luzernecounty.org, starting Oct. 1.
Council members pushed for the online posting, which occurs in some Florida counties but is unusual in Pennsylvania, to increase transparency.
The move also will eliminate the need to process Right-to-Know requests for these emails. Pedri told council candidate Kathy Dobash on Tuesday his office spent $10,000 reviewing about 30,000 emails to comply with her request last spring for all emails exchanged by council members since January 2012.
Pedri also announced plans to start publicly posting all Right-to-Know requests and the information provided in response on the county website by the end of the month. His office has received about 140 public information requests this year to date, and Pedri said the online posting will give all citizens access to the information supplied by his office.
Councilman Edward Brominski complained Tuesday that newly appointed Controller Walter Mitchell is still operating his insurance and financial estate planning firm outside county business hours. Brominski said the council-adopted administrative code says the controller cannot have other outside employment.
Pedri said the county’s home rule charter does not ban the controller from other outside employment, and the charter supersedes the administrative code if the two conflict. He said he will provide an opinion to council on the matter.
Mitchell was recently appointed to fill the rest of Walter Griffith’s term until the controller elected in November takes office in January.