The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 10, 2013

Top 10 of 2013 | Authority exec put on leave: Chairman declines to comment on reason

Randy Griffith
rgriffith@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — The longtime head of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority is being placed on administrative leave, The Tribune-Democrat has learned.

Executive Director Ron Repak will be placed on leave today, authority Chairman Ray Balta confirmed late Sunday.

Balta would not say if additional staff members face similar action.

“It is a personnel issue,” Balta said. “I can’t tell you anything else.”

Reached by phone, Repak said he has not been informed of any job action, adding that he does not know what would have sparked the discipline.

“Nobody said anything to me,” Repak said.

Neither Balta nor Johnstown Mayor Thomas Trigona would say if the job action is linked to an investigation referenced in a footnote with the authority’s 2010 annual audit.

As mayor, Trigona appoints all five members of the authority’s board of directors. He appointed himself to the authority last fall.

“We have ‘become aware through direct knowledge that a governmental investigation exists related to the activities of a responsible authority employee.’ However the scope and conclusion of the investigation is unknown at this time,” the Wessel & Co. auditor wrote in the 2010 audit, filed in midsummer 2011.

Balta has declined to comment on the investigation report.

Asked about the investigation last month, Repak said the audit note represents the only information he received. He said he was never questioned and believed the investigation was concluded.

In addition to the authority's annual audit of all financial operations, Repak said, the state conducts its own individual audits of each state-funded program.

Repak has been with the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority for more than 30 years.

The city agency’s primary mission is to remove blight and restore property for development.

Major projects have included the Napoleon Place Complex, Greater Johnstown Tech Park (now Conemaugh Medical Park) and the Penn West Financial building at 551 Main St.

Numerous smaller business developments also have benefited from the authority’s work, including McDonald's Restaurant, ITSI Biosciences, Greater Johnstown Water Authority and Franklin Street Bar & Grill, all in the Kernville section.

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