New leadership in the city
In approximately two months, City Council will have two new faces. LeOtis Williams, a longtime community leader, takes over the Whaleyville Borough seat. With the promotion of Mike Duman to mayor, someone yet to be appointed will fill in the Chuckatuck Borough seat.
We are eager to see these two new people step into leadership roles and work with the rest of the council. Likely one of the first things they will have to do is hire people.
The city currently is without a permanent city manager, deputy city manager, police chief, public utilities director and city assessor. The chief of staff also is working on her retirement papers.
To be clear, City Council directly hires only two of these positions — the city manager and assessor. However, the other positions will be filled by the city manager, in turn.
We’re certain that every one of the people in these positions on an interim basis is performing his or her job well.
As such, we wouldn’t quite call this a leadership crisis, but we do hope to see purposeful movement to fill these positions on a permanent basis soon. Having an interim leader almost inevitably leads to a certain amount of uncertainty among those who are employed by the city and these individual departments, and those who must interact with these organizations on a regular basis.
City Council took its first steps toward selecting a new city manager on Nov. 4, with the hiring of a consultant firm to help with the search. They also gave permission to their human resources director to begin interviewing candidates for the assessor job and putting together a packet for City Council to review.
It remains to be seen whether council intends to do any hiring before their new colleagues are inaugurated, but it’s good to see they’ve at least started the process.
Council should take its time and make the right selection, particularly as it relates to the city manager. With the right city manager, most of those other positions will fall into place.
The city assessor also is a council appointee, and an important one, as this position directs the assessment of real property. This revenue stream is expected to bring in roughly $225 million, according to the city’s adopted 2020-21 operating budget. And while the city needs this revenue stream, it also must ensure the assessor’s office is fair to all of its citizens and conducts its work transparently and accurately.
The right decisions here will benefit all.