Ex-Monroeville manager hired to oversee Robinson


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Jeff Silka plans to start fresh in Robinson.

The former Monroeville manager is set to begin his new job Monday as Robinson manager.

Mr. Silka recently resigned from Monroeville, after seven months on the job, amid conflict with some council members over a police employee decision.

"I did negotiate a resignation from Monroeville, and I'm starting new in Robinson," Mr. Silka said last week. "I'm excited to get there and look forward to meeting everyone."

Robinson commissioners voted 5-0 on March 20 to hire him at a yearly salary of $83,500.

Chairman Samuel Abatta said the Monroeville situation did not sway his opinion that Mr. Silka is qualified to manage Robinson.

"He's a highly skilled individual, and he'll be a fantastic fit for us," Mr. Abatta said.

Mr. Silka, 46, has about 11 years of experience as a municipal manager, including in his hometown of Johnstown and other communities in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

A certified economic developer, he spent six years as executive director of the Somerset County Economic Development Council.

While Robinson contains about half as many residents as Monroeville, both communities contain major shopping malls and serve as commercial hubs.

"It's very important to maintain businesses because if you become complacent, you can get a lot of empty buildings pretty quickly," Mr. Silka said. "Maintaining the business levels and expanding those are definitely part of any municipal government."

Robinson interviewed four candidates and chose Mr. Silka to replace Aaron Bibro, who resigned to start a new job Monday as manager of Hatfield in Montgomery County.

Earlier this month, Robinson commissioners changed legal counsel, appointing the Plum law firm of Bruce Dice -- who serves as Monroeville's solicitor -- to replace Goldberg Kamin & Garvin LLP of Pittsburgh. Commissioners said it was coincidence that the township's new manager and attorney both have ties to Monroeville.

Mr. Silka has signed an at-will employment agreement with the township similar to the one Mr. Bibro had, commissioners vice chairman Jesse Forquer said.

In general, an at-will contract allows either the employer or the employee to end the job relationship at any time.

Mr. Silka became Monroeville manager in July at a salary of $90,000.

He resigned in January, saying a group of council members gave him an ultimatum to either remove Doug Cole as Monroeville police chief or lose his job as manager.

Monroeville council members approved his resignation Jan. 31, and they agreed to give him a $67,592 severance package.

In his application letter to Robinson, Mr. Silka described his short tenure and settlement in Monroeville as being "due to a difference in opinion over a personnel decision with members of the council."

Mr. Forquer said that some Monroeville officials recommended Mr. Silka for the Robinson job.

Mr. Forquer said he expects some of Mr. Silka's experience in Monroeville may be of value to him in dealing with issues in Robinson.

"He's battle-ready."

Mr. Silka holds a master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

In 2009, he earned certification as an economic developer through the International Economic Development Council in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit membership organization.

He lives in Monroeville with his wife, Carralee, and their 12-year-old son, Christopher.

neigh_west

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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