Kittanning Borough Council hired its first borough manager on Monday night.
Councilman David Croyle motioned to make Cynthia “Cindee” McDermott of Apollo to serve in the management capacity for the next two years. McDermott is to be contracted at $30 per hour for a 40-hour full-time work week.
Council President Kim Chiesa said that McDermott’s contract did not include healthcare.
Croyle’s motion received a second by Councilman Chris Schiano. Approving the motion, in addition to Croyle and Schiano, were: Kim Chiesa, Scott Davis, Joe Kiehlmeier and Betsy Wilt. Those voting against the hiring of McDermott were Mike Johns and Andy Peters. Motion passed 6-2.
McDermott is not new to municipal government. She was the former borough manager for Apollo Borough for several years. Her tenure ended last December when Apollo Borough Council went through an administrative reorganization and the position was discontinued.
McDermott worked for a road construction company for almost a decade during her early years. She earned her degree from Geneva College in accounting and then human resource management. She spent 16 years working for Kensington Window Company as human resources manager before becoming the borough manager in Apollo.
While there are many similarities, McDermott said there were some things to learn about municipal government.
“I wasn’t as familiar several years ago with the Public Works department. When I found myself in charge of it in Apollo, I had to find out what it was all about,” she said. “I found out what is involved in maintaining streets and the structures that are in town, and the ordinances.”
The management experience McDermott received while at Apollo made her an excellent candidate for managing Kittanning Borough, Councilwoman Betsy Wilt said.
“I felt we needed someone with supervisory experience in the borough office,” Wilt said. She has encouraged hiring a borough manager for several years. “There are numerous state reporting and clerical functions, contracts, payroll, revenue, and many technical components with upgrading our computer system. Her ability to supervise our departments and make recommendations to Council regarding budget items will be crucial in the next few months.”
McDermott was originally hired temporarily to provide office support when Borough Secretary Betty Thompson announced her decision to retire. Although Thompson was not eligible for actual retirement until October, Wilt made a motion during a special meeting on January 21 to enter into an early retirement agreement with Thompson.
As Borough Manager, McDermott is able to make sure that Thompson’s duties as borough secretary are carried out until Thompson’s retirement is effective in October. McDermott will also be able to transact financial obligations of the Borough in an Assistant Treasurer position that is part of her job description.
“Every transaction is audited,” McDermott said. “The Borough goes through regular audits by various agencies all the time. We have to be prepared for that by maintaining accurate records. I enjoy bringing accountability into the process. ”
McDermott is concentrating on modernizing record keeping following approval by Council last month to upgrade the computer system and network. Council approved $12,000 for the upgrade.
“I look at the technology as being a tool for myself, the employees, and Council. I suggested software that is geared for the Auditor. If a council member comes in and asks for specific expenses related to a project, in just a few minutes, a report can be generated to facilitate that request. It is much more efficient than digging through cabinets to find backup material and creating a report by hand, which could take the better part of a day or more. It’s important that information be available to everyone in a timely manner and that it be accurate.”
McDermott said she has already had numerous communications with vendors and other agencies via technology.
“Technology is also important because many people don’t pick up the phone and call you as they did in the past. They will text or email, which also creates a conversation trail that can be audited.”
As the borough manager, McDermott will be the representative of Council in various local, state, and federal meetings.
“In this position borough manager, the relationships that you make with other people outside of the borough are very key to the success of the position,” McDermott said. “I am the person who represents the Borough to the bank, or to the Planning office of the County. It’s important for Council to know that I am representing them well outside the borough as well as in the inner workings of the Borough. I think that is something I do very well.”
McDermott is a wife and mother of three adult children. She said she welcomes the challenge of serving Kittanning Borough.
“I am looking forward to providing the service of Borough Manager to our community and serving Council. I think I can bring some positive things to the organizational structure,” she summarized.
The Borough office is open weekdays from 8AM until 4PM. To reach McDermott, call 724-543-2091 and press “zero” when the auto attendant begins its introductory announcement.