The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

News

February 11, 2013

Authority mum on shake-up

JOHNSTOWN — Three of the seven Johnstown Redevelopment Authority staffers were placed on administrative leave Monday in housecleaning that raised more questions than it answered.

In addition to Executive Director Ron Repak, an administrative assistant and board secretary were sent home.

Employees at the Public Safety Building said the authority’s solicitor, William G. Barbin, came in with the official notification.

Barbin would not confirm the job actions, referring questions to the authority’s chairman, Msgr. Raymond Balta.

“I have no comment,” Barbin said. “I’m not the authorized spokesman.”

Balta did not respond to repeated requests for information, including who authorized the leaves and who was assigned as an interim director.

The five-member authority’s last public meeting was Jan. 22.

No votes were taken on job actions.

In December, the authority board rejected pay increases for all seven employees. Repak,

60, was to earn $92,828 this year.

Authority member Brian Vuletich would not discuss the ousters, referring questions to Barbin.

“I’m not trying to dodge you,” Vuletich said. “It is personnel. Everything goes through the attorney at this point.”

The authority leadership’s reticence in the matter illustrates City Council’s frustration with the board, Councilman Frank Janakovic said.

“It caught me totally by surprise,” Janakovic said

“I was aware some things were going on, but it takes us by surprise that it comes to a head this quickly without anybody being notified.”

Even the councilman Balta considers to be the city’s liaison to the authority was not informed of the ousters.

“I read it in The Tribune-Democrat,” Pete Vizza said.

“This is just another example of what we’ve been complaining about,” Janakovic fumed, adding that council has been asking since November for authority members to attend a council meeting.

“It is just frustrating,” Janakovic said. “Get this out in the open. If there are questions to be answered, let’s deal with it.”

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