Manager Decker placed on leave

Pacifico calls move ‘a personnel issue’


City Manager Ken Decker was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday, according to city officials.

“It’s a personnel issue,” said Mayor Matt Pacifico, who, along with other council members, declined to explain further.

“(It’s) not due to any type of alleged criminal activity,” said solicitor Tom Finn.

Personnel Director Omar Strohm has been named acting city manager, according to Councilman Dave Butterbaugh.

Finn, the mayor and council members declined to say whether council voted on the action taken against Decker — although city managers serve at the behest of City Council, and council can discuss personnel matters in executive session, Finn said, speaking generally.

Asked whether council would need to vote to discipline a city manager, Finn suggested that formal disciplinary action hasn’t occurred.

“I don’t know that the question is applicable to where we’re at,” Finn said.

The city’s Home Rule Charter gives council the power to remove city managers “at any time, with or without cause … by a majority vote of its total membership.”

“I wish I could talk,” Decker said Wednesday.

But based on “communications” he’s had with the solicitor and council members, “pending a resolution, I just can’t give any comment about my situation or status,” he said.

The leave is indefinite, but “I think all concerned would like to bring this matter to a conclusion sooner rather than later,” Finn said. He couldn’t say what that conclusion might be, the solicitor said.

Council hired Decker in mid-December 2019.

He succeeded interim Manager Peter Marshall, who had taken over for permanent Manager Marla Marcinko, after she left to manage Sewickley Borough.

A Montana native, Decker, 57 when hired, previously managed Caroline County, Md., and before that, the Town of Hampstead, Md.

Decker is an economics graduate of Gonzaga University with a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University.

Last year, Decker developed a budget that incorporated $1 million in savings and didn’t require a tax increase — in keeping with council’s instructions — but that did require laying off 16 employees, with a few offsetting hires.

Strohm served as interim manager previously, after the retirement of Joe Weakland, Marcinko’s predecessor as permanent manager.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.


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