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Graziani hired away from Latrobe as Penn Township's manager

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Chris Foreman | Penn-Trafford Star
Latrobe city manager Alex Graziani started as Penn Township manager on May 1.

Latrobe is in the market for a city manager now that its top administrator has taken a similar post in Penn Township.

Alex Graziani, 43, Latrobe's manager since August 2011, notified council he is leaving on May 30. Penn Township commissioners on Wednesday approved hiring Graziani, who is scheduled to begin there on June 2.

Graziani said on Thursday it was “a very tough decision” to leave Latrobe because he likes the job and the people he has worked with the past 2 12 years.

Graziani said he believes the city is in a good position. “The ship is pointing in the right direction. The blueprint is in place. The next person (manager) will be a wheel in the cog,” Graziani said.

Graziani said unused vacation time will make July 1 the official date of his resignation.

“We're sorry to see him go,” said Mayor Rosemarie Wolford, who was on council when Graziaini was hired.

Graziani oversaw the $3 million rehabilitation of a 280-space parking garage, worked with Westmoreland County Community College on the development of a $12 million campus in downtown Latrobe and supported implementation of a mobile pay-by-phone system for parking meters. Graziani worked to get funding for an early-intervention plan to help the city avoid serious financial trouble.

“He's a rising star. I've said all along that we were lucky to get him,” Wolford said.

Graziani's contract with Latrobe was not renewed when it expired in December, but he said that was not a factor in prompting him to search for another job. Wolford said that was an oversight and not a sign of dissatisfaction.

Before succeeding Rick Stadler as Latrobe manager, Graziani was executive director of Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County for 10 years. The nonprofit encourages growth to improve the quality of life.

Wolford said Graziani has told city officials he will assist in hiring a replacement. The city plans to begin advertising next week. The mayor hopes to have a new manager at work by mid-June.

“We want someone with a proven track record” and knowledge of planning and development, the mayor said.

Councilman Michael Skapura, a member of the personnel committee, said he does not want to be in a hurry to replace Graziani.

“I want to be sure to get the right person. ...We could go a few months here before we fill the position,” because the staff can handle day-to-day operations, Skapura said.

Councilman Gerry Baldonieri could not be reached for comment. Councilman Fabian Giovannagelo declined to comment.

Graziani was paid about $81,000 this year but did not receive a 2 percent raise, as he did in 2012 and 2013.

Penn Township will pay Graziani a salary of $92,000, which includes a $7,200 stipend to serve as board secretary.

He will replace Bruce Light, who is retiring on May 23 after 19 years as manager.

Graziani said he is making a career move to a growing municipality that values professional management. “You don't want to walk into a local government that doesn't have that level of consistency,” he said.

Penn Township is primarily a residential community with a population of about 20,000 in 33 square miles, compared to Latrobe, which has a mix of residential, commercial and industrial uses, with a population of 8,300 people and little land open for development.

Township commissioners are seeking to spur economic development, Graziani said.

Graziani said the Penn Township opening appealed to him because of the professionalism the board has shown in working with Light, who has been the municipality's only manager.

Commissioner Paul Wersing said he respected Graziani from his days with Smart Growth Partnership.

“He was ahead of the curve on development, and he's a well-rounded individual,” Wersing said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com. Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 856-7400, ext. 8671, or cfocforeman@tribweb.com.

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