Council to consider employment/contract of city manager

JAMES BEATY | Staff photoCity Manager Pete Stasiak looks over paperwork during a meeting of the McAlester City Council.

McAlester city councilors met behind closed doors in executive session for approximately 39 minutes Tuesday night to consider the employment and contract of City Manager Pete Stasiak.

When they emerged from the closed session at City hall, they voted unanimously to adjourn without taking any action regarding Stasiak's contract and his employment with the city.

That means that Stasiak's  previously-approved one year contract that went into effect on July 1 remains in effect as is. It's set to extend through June 30, 2021.

"Thank you, guys," Stasiak said quietly after the vote was taken.

Asked about his reaction to the vote, Stasiak said "I appreciate their having confidence in me."

McAlester Mayor John Browne said after the meeting adjourned he does not expect any further action in regard to the city manager's contract.

"We had a good and spirited discussion in executive session," Browne said. "The impression I got coming out of it is the council unanimously thinks Pete is doing a good job.

"We do need to work on a succession plan if Pete was to chose not to work here anymore," Browne said. "We have as assistant city manager," Browne noted, referring to Toni Ervin. "But we don't have a process in place to fill the city manager's position if it should become open."

Browne said Ervin would likely serve as interim city manager if the position should become vacant at any point.

"We will work to come up with a valid succession plan so there would be no drop-off in city business," Browne said.

Also following the meeting's adjournment, Vice Mayor/Ward 4 Councilor James Brown said he does not expect the council to take any further action regarding the matter. He said there may have been a few areas of concern, but nothing major.

City councilors met in the executive session to consider the matters regarding Stasiak as part of their regular Tuesday night council meeting.

 The agenda item called for the city council to consider and act to convene in executive session "for confidential communications between a public body and its attorney to discuss the employment, hiring, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of any individual salaried public officer or employee, more particularly City Manager Peter Stasiak."

Following the executive session, the agenda called for the council to reconvene in open session to "Consider and act upon the employment/contract of City Manager Peter Stasiak" — the point where city councilors voted unanimously to adjourn without taking action on the matter.

Stasiak's contract had offered him the same $138,000 and almost the same benefits he received for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. With benefits included, the total contract package came to approximately $167,000.

The contract also requires Stasiak to take the same number of unpaid furlough days as all other non-uniformed personnel, with a 2% reduction in the retirement contribution paid by the city.

Before the council voted to go into executive session, former mayor and McAlester banker Kevin Priddle addressed the councilors. He expressed the surprise that  Stasiak's contract was being brought up so soon after the council had already approved it. He spoke of the difficulty of the city manager's post.

"He has six bosses and is one election away from losing his job," Priddle said, referring to city council and the fact that the city manager's contract automatically comes before the council on an annual basis.

Priddle said a number of people had contacted him who thought Stasiak was doing a good job and he was speaking on their behalf.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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