SHAMOKIN - Citing his extensive experience in finance, banking and municipal government, Shamokin City Council officially hired Robert M. Slaby as city clerk at a special meeting Monday night in the mayor's office.

The 62-year-old former Kulpmont mayor who has more than 27 years of banking experience said he was looking forward to working with city officials while admitting serious financial challenges lie ahead.

The new clerk will receive a $40,000 annual salary plus medical benefits. He will be required to make a $25 weekly contribution toward health care, the same rate as other non-union employees at city hall.

"I'm confident my past experiences as mayor and in the financial and banking industry will help us lead the city to brighter days," he said. "It will take time. The city's financial problems didn't happen overnight. It will take a joint effort between myself, council and the mayor to be successful."

Slaby, who resides in Kulpmont, will begin his duties today.

He will succeed Steve Bartos, who was hired in May 2011 and resigned in February.

Voting to hire Slaby were Mayor William Milbrand and council members Barbara Moyer, R. Craig Rhoades and David Kinder. Councilman Charlie Verano cast the lone dissenting vote for financial reasons.

"I have nothing against the candidate, but I just feel $40,000 plus benefits is a lot of money for the city," Verano said after the meeting. "I was voted in as a councilman to do what's best for the city and that's why I voted against the hiring. I have no problem with Mr. Slaby."

Milbrand stated, "I'd like to welcome Mr. Slaby to our team. I think he will be a great asset to the city and help us move forward."

"I'm happy to have someone with so much governmental experience who can hit the ground running in what will be a very stressful situation," Kinder added. "I'm looking forward to working with him."

Rhoades said Slaby's personality and financial knowledge will help the city tremendously.

Moyer said council needed to hire a city clerk with financial experience to move forward in its efforts to rectify its financial woes. "He has a big job ahead of him," she said.

Moyer said she agreed with a committee's recommendation to hire Slaby. That committee consisted of Milbrand, Kinder and private-sector financial advisers and officials from the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Council unanimously amended a resolution involving the third phase of the Early Intervention Program the city entered into in hopes of alleviating its financial problems. The amendment includes receiving $37,500 from DCED to pay for labor counsel advisement during police contract negotiations.

At the beginning of the 45-minute session, Shamokin Redevelopment Authority member Dave Hughes expressed concerns about floor tiles cracking from concrete problems at the office of Dr. Sanjay Sen at Mill Road Square on North Franklin Street.

Milbrand advised Hughes and code enforcement officer Rick Bozza to meet with Sen to discuss the problem.