Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton will complete his first year of service at the end of February, which triggers an official performance review by the county council.
Council already approved a template of the qualities that will be judged, but its members must determine how the responses will be compiled and whether others also will be invited to weigh in, said council Chairman Tim McGinley.
A council committee had discussed the possibility of asking some employees, community leaders and residents to also complete reviews using the same format as the 11 council members. If this option proceeds, council must decide how it will select these additional reviewers, how their responses will be incorporated in the evaluation and whether the participants will be identified or kept anonymous, he said.
Like many other matters, it will be a first for us under the new home rule government, said McGinley. All council members will be involved and have an opportunity to offer their thoughts and opinions on the process.
The evaluation has no link to an employment contract because Lawton accepted the $110,000 position without an agreement to be employed a particular period of time.
A council majority has expressed overall satisfaction with Lawton's performance. To eliminate the manager, seven council members – a majority plus one – would have to pass a resolution specifying the reasons.
McGinley said the evaluation is meant to provide Lawton with a constructive assessment on his strengths and weaknesses.
It will show how people perceive him, said McGinley. It's always good to get some feedback.
Under home rule, the manager oversees day-to-day operations previously handled by elected commissioners and row officers.
Council has set seven broad categories that will be judged: staff effectiveness, policy facilitation, service delivery management, democratic responsiveness, organizational planning and management, communication and personal characteristics. Each will be scored ranging from a low of 1 to high of 5.
Detailed explanations of each category have been posted on the council section of the Luzerne County website, www.luzernecounty.org.
Space will be available on the evaluation for reviewers to provide supporting notes with their scores, and explanation is mandated when someone scores any category at 2 or less.
Evaluators also will be asked to answer four open-ended questions:
• What would you identify as the manager's strengths?
• What performance areas would you identify as the most critical for improvement?
• What constructive suggestions or assistance can you offer the manager to enhance performance?
• What other comments do you have for the manager; e.g., priorities, expectations, goals or objectives for the new rating period?