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Penn Hills

Penn Hills manager blames workplace 'political arena' for decision to step down

Dillon Carr
| Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 5:07 p.m.
Penn Hills Manager Mohammed Rayan reads from his proposed 2018 budget during a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 4.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills Manager Mohammed Rayan reads from his proposed 2018 budget during a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 4.

Penn Hills Manager Mohammed Rayan said he resigned because the atmosphere at work became a “political arena” and that politicians interfered with his job.

“When I accepted this position, it was agreed upon that there would be no political interference and no micromanagement by mayor and council,” Rayan said at a voting meeting Monday night. Since taking the position in 2009, that hasn't happened, he said.

“However, in the past nine months, politicians have not complied with the home rule charter and have attempted to interfere with the personnel management and in the daily operations of the municipality,” the manager said.

Rayan did not give specifics or name names.

“I no longer feel that I can do the job as I see fit to continue to move the municipality forward,” he said at the meeting.

His roughly 20-minute statement came after three weeks of silence following an announcement that he will step down as manager , a position he's held since 2009, to return to his previous job as public works director.

The move will take effect July 1. Rayan, who makes $127,215 a year as manager, replaced Manager Terry Van Horne in 2009 and ended a streak of managers who served short terms that ended when they resigned or were fired.

Rayan will make $88,627 annually as public works superintendent.

He said the municipality is in stable financial condition and called anything contrary “false news.”

Rayan said his nine-year tenure brought the municipality out of financial troubles, growing the general fund's year-end balance from $1.4 million in 2009 to $4.1 million in 2017. He noted that the municipality has paid off $40 million in sewage debt since 2010.

“This wasn't done by a magician,” he said, noting the hard work of municipal staff.

The manager's optimism was in contrast to a warning he gave council in his proposed budget for 2018: If tax revenues are not increased next year, “2019 will be the beginning of a downward slide.”

That warning sparked a public debate in which residents offered municipal officials ideas to avoid Rayan's prediction.

The current spending plan includes revenue of $27.8 million and expenses of $30.7 million. The budget was balanced by using $2.9 million of a $4 million surplus in the general fund. There was no tax increase.

Mayor Sara Kuhn, in tears, said she would miss Rayan.

“Will he be missed? Unbelievably,” she said between long pauses. “He has chosen to go back to public works, which he has every right in the world to do.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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