The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 18, 2012

City redevelopment authority axes pay raises

Randy Griffith
rgriffith@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — There will be no pay increases for Johnstown Redevelopment Authority staff in 2013, but there is money for a contract Johnstown City Council canceled last week.

The authority unanimously approved budgets totaling $9,418,481 at Tuesday’s meeting.

Johnstown Regional Sewage operation will cost $8.6 million, and the authority administrative budget was approved at $818,481.

The decision to eliminate $12,822 in pay increases for the seven-member administrative staff apparently was made during a brief executive session prior to approval.

Board member Brian Vuletich asked for the closed-door session and then made a motion to approve the proposed budget without pay increases.

The proposed budget included a 3 percent increase for all employees.

Meanwhile, the authority left in place $66,000 it pays the city under a contract for some financial management work, Monsignor Raymond Balta, board chairman, said after the meeting.

Last week city council voted to cancel the contract, which would have required the authority staff to do the work itself or find another provider, Balta said.

Council’s action came in response to the authority’s decision to outsource the jobs that were being done by three city employees covered by the United Steelworkers collective bargaining agreement for the sewage department. The workers who formerly staffed the Johnstown Regional Sewage office on Main Street were replaced by the company handling sewage billing.

After last week’s council meeting, city Solicitor David Andrews contacted authority Solicitor William G. Barbin and the two discussed how the three workers could continue to provide clerical work for the authority.

They will be working on the backlog of delinquent account collections, Balta said.

Council is meeting at noon today to reconsider the contract dissolution, Andrews said.

There is still confusion about where the three will be working, said Craig Cernic, local union president.

Cernic said he received a letter from Andrews telling him to have the workers report for work Monday at the authority offices in the Public Safety Building. When they showed up for work, Barbin told them to leave, Cernic said.

They went back to their duties at the Dornick Point sewage plant Tuesday while the union pursues its grievance, Cernic said.

The redevelopment authority has only agreed to provide work for the city employees, Barbin said. It is up to the city to provide a work space.

“Somebody was trying to set us up,” Barbin said Tuesday. “They are not our employees.”