Fountain Hill Borough Council voted 6-1 Wednesday to terminate borough manager Eric Gratz, who had been on unpaid leave from the position since the spring, when he was charged with allegedly soliciting a minor for sex.
In introducing the brief discussion about Gratz’s fate, council president Norman Blatt commented that Gratz’s “legal problems” will likely not be resolved “anytime soon.”
Fountain Hill public works director Jason Quarry was appointed acting borough manager in April, however the borough needs the position filled on a more permanent basis, Blatt indicated.
Councilman Will Rufe made the motion to dismiss Gratz from his job with the borough. Councilwoman Annamarie Jordan seconded the motion.
The only council member to vote against terminating Gratz was councilman Philip Trabel.
Blatt said Gratz would be formally notified of the decision in a letter.
Council then unanimously passed a motion to hire Lafayette College’s Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government for the purpose of conducting a search for a new borough manager.
Blatt noted that the Meyner Center has assisted the borough with its past two manager searches.
“They will charge a fee and I think it’s well worth the money,” he said.
Trabel asked if Quarry would be considered for the position.
“He will be given an opportunity to apply,” responded Blatt.
Fountain Hill finance director Cordula Voges was tasked with contacting the Meyner Center to begin the search process.
Gratz, 42, of Alburtis, remains free on $5,000 unsecured bail.
He is scheduled to be formally arraigned on the charges he faces on Aug. 2 by Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas Judge Anna-Kristie Marks, according to a case docket.
Prosecuters allege that Gratz initiated conversations with a 17-year-old Fountain Hill junior firefighter and exchanged cell phone numbers–ostensibly for work purposes–last December, before later texting her and offering her money in exchange for sexual acts.
“Gratz used a cell phone provided by the Borough of Fountain Hill to text the victim on numerous occasions,” the Lehigh County District Attorney’s office said in March.
Gratz is charged with Solicitation to Commit Prostitution, a third-degree misdemeanor, and is being represented by attorney Joshua Karoly of the Karoly Law Firm in Allentown, according to court records.
Prior to his Fountain Hill employment, Gratz was EMS Chief of Operations for the City of Allentown for nearly five years. When he was hired by the borough in 2021, his salary was $85,000 a year.
The next Fountain Hill Borough Council meeing is scheduled to be held Monday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. at Borough Hall. Meetings are also broadcast live on the borough’s Facebook page.