The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 13, 2013

Few details in authority job action

JOHNSTOWN — Few new details about the fates of three employees emerged Wednesday during a brief Johnstown Redevelopment Authority meeting where the administrative leaves were confirmed.

Executive Director Ronald W. Repak, administrative assistant Deborah Walter and board secretary Lisa Wirfel remain on leave, with full pay and benefits, following the unanimous vote Wednesday.

Repak’s annual salary is $92,828 for 2013; Walter’s is $60,153; and Wirfel’s is $27,583.

Leaders provided no reasons for the job action, but board Chairman Raymond Balta on Tuesday told a WJAC-TV reporter it was because there have been too many “rumors” going around.

The Tribune-Democrat asked Balta at Wednesday’s meeting if he would like to clarify the depiction, but Balta did not answer.

Solicitor William G. Barbin said he would not advise the authority members to discuss personnel matters, adding it could be “harmful and detrimental” to the board, prior to final resolution.

By continuing to pay the employees while on leave, Barbin said, “It is real clear ... that this is an interim action.”

Additional action Wednesday assigned staff to cover the workers’ responsibilities while they are on leave.

Authority members also voted unanimously to name project manager Francis G. D’Ettorre as acting executive director for “nonpolicy decisions.”

D’Ettorre also was named as co-trustee of the authority pension plan with Controller William Meske. Meske was named open records officer.

It remains unclear who made the initial decision to place the three on leave. The Tribune-Democrat learned of the pending action Sunday, and the three were sent home Monday morning.

When The Tribune-Democrat reporter asked Barbin and Balta after Wednesday’s meeting how the decision was made between meetings, Barbin said, “Out,” and pointed to the conference room exit.

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