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.

An item calling for the McAlester City Council to meet in closed executive session regarding City Manager Pete Stasiak’s employment is on the agenda for the  Oct. 13 city council meeting.

City councilors are meeting in executive session at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The city manager’s contract is the last item on the agenda.

Stasiak’s new one-year contract with the city went into effect July 1, at the beginning of the new fiscal year. It’s been in effect for only three months and 10 days.

During the Tuesday night meeting, city councilors are to consider and act on convening behind closed doors “for confidential communications between a public body and its attorney to discuss the employment, hiring, appointment, promotion, demotion, discipling or resignation of any individual salaried public officer or employee, more particularly City Manager Peter Stasiak,” the agenda states.

Following the closed session, the agenda calls for city councilors to reconvene into open session to “consider and act upon the employment/contract of City Manager Peter Stasiak.”

Ward 5 City Councilor Billy Jack Boatright asked for the item regarding Stasiak’s contract to be placed on the Tuesday night meeting agenda. Why does he want to discuss the city manager’s employment?

“We’re discussing his job performance,” Boatright said Friday. “There’s a lot of people out there unhappy with the way he’s running the city and they’ve put it on my shoulders.”

What does Boatright want to discuss about Stasiak’s job performance?

“I was told not to say anything,” Boatright said. The News-Capital asked Boatright who told him not to say anything, since he’s a city councilman and has the right to speak on any issues he wants. Boatright declined to answer that question.

“I’m not going to do anything until after the executive session,” Boatright said.

Asked if there was anything about Stasiak’s job performance that he was unhappy with, Boatright said “No.”

Federal bankruptcy documents show Stasiak filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy 20 years ago, on Oct. 13, 2000, in federal bankruptcy court in Idaho. Initial filings list the total amount claimed as $86,574.90.

Documents issued in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Idaho state “In most instances, the filing of the bankruptcy case stays certain collection and other actions against the debtor and the debtor’s property.  Under certain instances, the stay may be limited to 30 days or not exist at all, although the debtor can request the court to extend or impose a stay.”

Bankruptcy records list the day of the last filing and the termination date as Oct. 28, 2002.

Asked about the bankruptcy filing in Idaho, Stasiak said he and his wife had owned a restaurant and a bicycle shop.

“I invested in the community and when the economy turned, I ended up losing everything,” Stasiak said Friday.

Stasiak came from Arizona in 2009 to McAlester, where he began work as the city’s director of Planning and Community Development.

He became interim city manager after then-city manager Mark Roath resigned to take a job in New Mexico. City councilors later hired Stasiak as the new McAlester city manager, succeeding Roath.

Two who were serving on the McAlester City Council when Stasiak was hired as city manager said he disclosed his previous bankruptcy filings at the time.

Kevin Priddle served as the city’s mayor when Stasiak was hired.

“That wasn’t a concern to us at the time,” Priddle said Friday. “As I recall the only concern was that he was bondable, and he was. Pete always had the confidence of the council.

“I think Pete has done an excellent job,” Priddle said. “It’s a tough job to have.”

Current Mayor John Browne said he served as the Ward 3 city councilor when the council hired Stasiak for the city manager’s post. He said he knew about the 2000 bankruptcy filing as well.

“It was known at the time of Pete’s hiring,” Browne said. “It had gone through the cycle for bankruptcy and explained to the satisfaction of the council. It was not an impediment at the time.

“My personal opinion is I am glad we hired him,” Browne said. “He has done and continues to do a very good job for the city of McAlester.”

During their May 26, 2020, meeting, McAlester city councilors voted 6-to-1 to offer Stasiak his recent new one-year contract with the city. Stasiak accepted the offer for the 2020-2021 Fiscal year, which extends through June 30, 2021.

The contract offered Stasiak the same $138,000 base pay and nearly the same benefits as his previous contract for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year. With benefits included, the total package in the contract is approximately $167,000.

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

Voting “yes” to offer Stasiak the contract during the May 26 meeting were Weldon Smith, Ward 1; Cully Stevens, Ward 2; Steve Cox, Ward 3; James Brown, Ward 4, Zach Prichard, Ward 6 and Mayor Browne.

The sole vote against offering Stasiak the new contract came from then-Ward 5 Councilor Maureen Harrison.

Harrison, who had been appointed to fill a vacancy the Ward 5 seat, did not seek election to the post earlier this year. Boatright won the June 30 runoff election held to name Harrison’s successor in the Ward 5 seat.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternws.com

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