Borough Manager Possibility Again Discussed in Ford City

During Monday evening’s work session, Ford City Borough Council met with Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs Senior Director of Education and Sustainability E.J. Knittel about the ins-and-outs of a Borough Manager.

by Jonathan Weaver

During Ford City Borough Council’s work session Monday, members listened to and asked questions pertaining to a future hire.

For about an hour, Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs Senior Director of Education and Sustainability E.J. Knittel described the role of a Borough Manager – something Council identified at their first January meeting as a priority discussion.

“It varies from community to community. There are some municipalities where the manager oversees a multitude of departments,” Knittel said. “The Borough Manager has those authorities which the Council delegates. You would decide what you want the manager to do.

“I have seen more failures of first-term managers because of the relationship because of the relationship between Council and what they were doing before and what they wanted to do after they hired the manager because they weren’t clear on the duties and responsibilities. Clear goals and objectives you want to measure the success of a manager are important.”

Some duties that might be needed in Ford City Borough include balancing the want for economic development with community programs, and finding grant opportunities that would match both aspects.

“What is it you want to be when you grow up? We all want streets paved in gold, all the yards maintained, a thriving downtown with businesses and trees along the boulevard and no potholes,” Knittel said. “Those are good objectives, but they’re not easy to do.”

Borough managers are visible in all sizes of municipalities in the state, according to Knittel. The largest Borough in the state boasts about 40,000 residents (State College Borough) to the smallest of about 50 residents (in S.N.P.J. Borough in Lawrence County).

“There are 957 boroughs in Pennsylvania and about 300-350 managers in those boroughs,” Knittel said. “Every borough must have a secretary to take care of the official records, sign various documents. It is possible the manager can be the borough secretary at the same time, very common.”

Mayor Marc Mantini indicated Borough Managers are maintained in Springdale Borough (Allegheny County) and in Sharpsville Borough (Mercer County). Another was located within Apollo Borough.

During the first council public meeting in January, Council Vice-President Jerry Miklos discussed the possibility of sharing a manager between local municipalities, such as Kittanning Borough.

Borough Managers mostly have an at-will contract for up to two years so that their term doesn’t extend past a municipal election cycle.

The hire would have to be approved by four of the six members of council and be under the final direction of Council President Kathy Bartuccio in the chain of command. Mayor Marc Mantini would not be able to break a tie vote.

Council would individually also have to decide salary and benefits, as well as the job’s work schedule.

When it comes to experience, Knittel recommended applicants have be versed in engineering with knowledge of municipal government, have administrative experience with up to a Masters Degree and good public speaking skills to communicate with both taxpayers and Borough organizations.