Lawrence County’s Housing Authority executive director rejected an early retirement package last week.

One problem: Two of the board’s four members did not approve the proposal made to Robert Evanick.

“I don’t know how they can offer him a buyout without consulting the board first,” Ernestine Wise said last night.

“I don’t know anything about it.”

Chairman Robert Heath also expressed his frustration.

“I wasn’t really told a dollar amount,” he said. “They asked me if I was for a buyout, and I said ‘No.’

“For one reason, we couldn’t afford a buyout. And I don’t think Mr. Evanick wanted to leave.”

When contacted yesterday, Evanick downplayed the controversy.

“They wanted to give me an incentive to take an early retirement, and I decided that I just wanted to continue working.”

The question of who authorized the initial talks with Evanick is up for debate. Board member Donald “Ducky” Conti acknowledged Evanick was “pondering on retiring.” Other than denying that Evanick was offered $200,000 to leave, he provided no additional information.

“That number is too large,” Conti said.

Board member Jeffrey Scrim, who is on vacation, and suspended board member, Gary F. Felasco, could not be reached for comment.

Because Evanick is a civil service employee, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would have a say on Evanick’s buyout package. HUD provides the authority with its funding. Calls to HUD were not returned by press time.

“They had offered me a cash incentive and paying for my sick time and vacation time,” Evanick said. “I told them I just wasn’t interested. I want to work for five more years until I’m 65.”

Where Evanick will work during that time is also being raised. A source familar with housing authority issues, who requested anonymity, stated Evanick was relocating to Pittsburgh once mayor-elect Bob O’Connor took office.

The source said Evanick was expected to be hired by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

Dick Skrinjar, O’Connor communications director, quickly rejected that premise as rumor.

“I know nothing about it,” he said yesterday. “The chief of staff will sit in on all the hirings that we do here. It’s premature to have announcements about other people’s positions.”

Evanick said he could not comment on that report.


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