Staff Writer

CONNEAUT - - Talks between city administrators and John Roach, Public Works Department director, will determine when the longtime supervisor concludes his municipal career.

Roach and City Manager Douglas Lewis both confirmed Tuesday that a meeting is ahead to discuss financial matters regarding Roach's departure. It's believed disbursement of unused vacation time may be at the crux of the dispute.

The situation is the latest chapter in the rocky relationship between Roach and Lewis. Last month, Lewis suspended Roach for three days after a heated argument in Lewis' office over a trash container at the street department garage, which Public Works employees rented for their personal use.

Roach handed an envelope containing his notification of retirement to Lewis during a Dec. 27 work session. Roach said Tuesday he planned to step down in early April, but that date could change pending the outcome of the upcoming negotiations.

"Hopefully, we'll be meeting shortly," Roach said.

According to reports, Roach had planned to retire at the end of 2007 but accelerated his decision. If the April timetable holds, it means two high-profile department supervisors will leave within a three-month span. Harry Runnion, water treatment plant superintendent, plans to retire before the end of June, officials have said. Runnion gave plenty of advance notice of his retirement, allowing city leaders to work his payout into the 2007 budget, Lewis said.

"It's been budgeted because we were notified earlier in the year," he said.

Talks with Roach are meant to find ways to ease the pinch his payout could put on this year's fragile finances, Lewis said.

"Those are the issues were looking to address," he said.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 1/3/2007

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