Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton called a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce and publicly introduce his nominees for two top division head posts overseeing budget-and-finance and human service branches.
Lawton selected Western Pennsylvania resident David Schwille for the human services post and Brian Swetz, of Swoyersville, as budget/finance division head.
The county’s home rule charter requires confirmation from at least six of 11 County Council members for division head hirings to take effect.
The human services post was never permanently filled since the county’s January 2012 switch to home rule. Mary Dysleski temporarily managed the division until her hiring as director of wills, deeds and marriage licenses in October.
Lawton has relied on temporary budget/finance division heads, including Swetz, since prior division head Richard Cardamone resigned after several weeks on the job last June to accept a position outside the region.
The positions were advertised with a salary range of $85,000 to $100,000. Lawton is proposing a salary of $87,000 for Schwille and $85,000 for Swetz.
Lawton said two men were selected after a nationwide search that included assistance from a professional recruiter.
The human services division includes Children and Youth, Aging, Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol and Veterans Affairs. The division has a budget around $92 million, primarily funded by the state and federal governments.
Schwille has worked as human service and child welfare administrator in Venango County in Western Pennsylvania since 2001. He also held other positions in the social services field since 1974.
He has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the California State College of Pennsylvania, a master’s in counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in business administration from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Schwille also is immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Association of County Human Services Administrators and is serving on state judicial task forces focusing on child welfare and drug-and-alcohol addiction issues.
The budget/finance division head also oversees the assessor’s and treasurer’s offices and payroll.
Swetz has worked as a senior accountant for the county since March in addition to coordinating implementation of the county’s new financial software system.
He previously worked as a financial analyst at Benco Dental in Pittston, a business consultant at Albert B. Melone Co. in Pittston and an auditor for Albert Kishel CPA, Wilkes-Barre. Swetz has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Misericordia University.
Schwille, 65, said he was intrigued by the county position because he likes challenges and believes he can provide needed leadership. He said he would find ways to eliminate duplication among the offices in his division to maximize money available for services to vulnerable residents.
“I don’t say a lot, but I do a lot,” he said during Thursday’s announcement.
If the nomination is confirmed, Lawton told the audience he will continue pressing Schwille for statistics showing more residents received the assistance needed to become self sufficient. He predicted Schwille will introduce fresh ideas that have succeeded elsewhere.
Swetz, 39, said he would provide required stability to his division and find new ways to generate revenue and cut expenses.
“I will present better ways to do things — not just move forward with the same-old, same-old,” Swetz said.
Lawton said his administration has been “attacked” for nominating non-natives for some division head posts, but he bases his selection on qualifications regardless of residency. Lawton said Swetz was chosen because he was the best in a nationwide search, not the “best Luzerne County has to offer.”
Eight county divisions were created under home rule charter. Lawton said he is still seeking engineer applicants for the operational services division head post, which was vacated when Chris Belleman accepted a position overseeing the county Flood Protection Authority in September.
With current and prospective division heads surrounding him, Lawton praised his cabinet, saying, “Luzerne County is going to achieve great things in 2014.”