by Jonathan Weaver
Ford City Borough’s interim top administrator is now here to stay.
Following an at-least five month search, Interim borough manager Eden Ratliff was formally hired by Borough Council members 4-1 Monday evening.
Councilman Gene Banks was the only present member of Borough Council opposed to the promotion. Councilman Scott Gaiser was absent.
“I’m very surprised – I did not think that I would be in this position, Ratliff said. “However, I’m extremely thankful to be put-in-place as the Borough Manager of Ford City.”
Ratliff thanked council members during his meeting-ending comments
“I believe that Ford City has a very bright future. There are a lot of opportunities this borough has,” Ratliff said.
Councilman Josh Abernathy was first to congratulate Ratliff for his efforts so far and wished him luck on upcoming hurdles.
Council President Kathy Bartuccio has grown to know Ratliff both personally and professionally since his internship appointment in March. Some of his attributes include being creative and trustworthy.
She said they hoped Ratliff would interview for the job.
“I couldn’t say enough about him,” Bartuccio said.
Ratliff – who oversees at least eight employees – was hired as Interim Borough Manager in May, and will be paid nearly $35,000 annually based on his current wages.
Borough Council first entertained a motion by Councilwoman Vicki Schaub to hire a different candidate at a rate of $55,000 per year. She later voted against hiring the candidate, who had borough management experience – as a majority of council members also did.
Schaub later motioned for Ratliff’s appointment.
More than a half-dozen resumes were submitted by June, according to Department of Community and Economic Development Local Government Policy Specialist Michael Foreman. At the work session, Foreman said applications were to have been accepted until August. He hoped a borough manager was indeed hired by October.
Schaub explained that nine applicants were given via number, with four council members surveying them.
“We didn’t know the names on the applications,” Abernathy said.
Councilman Jerry Miklos added that council members did not know the names on each resume until face-to-face interviews were conducted. He was pleased with the hiring process DCED laid out and the help Foreman provided.
“I’m personally very pleased with the hiring process because I think it did what we expected it to do – which was to take local politics out of the hiring process,” Miklos said. “I’m pleased this Council was willing to do that; somewhat of a switch from the way we’re used to hiring here in Ford City.”
Ratliff is a confirmed special guest for tonight’s “Talk of the Town” weekly show on Family-Life TV. The show begins at 8PM.
During his report, Ratliff said that maintenance and administrative tasks are piling up in the municipality.
“We’re doing well, but we’re very busy this time of year. We’re getting ready for snow, yet we’re still looking at grass that needs to be cut, so it’s an interesting transition period,” Ratliff said. “At times, we’re becoming overwhelmed. There’s a lot of work to do, but we continue to move forward despite the challenge that may present.”
Overtime hours – including painting curbs to restrict parking – were allotted this past month.
Ratliff earned a master’s degree in employment and labor relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Council members also committed themselves to the DCED Early Intervention Program – a program designed to help keep municipalities from filing for Act 47.
Bartuccio, who signed a resolution and application to enroll, said the five-year financial management plan will cost up to $7,000. Aid money is available to help fund the process.
Miklos explained three consulting firms bid to assess all borough capacities. A final firm was not voted upon.
In response to a resident concern, Miklos said the program is to prevent bankruptcy.
“I think that’s always a possibility – it depends on how the borough is managed and how we spend money here,” Miklos said. “The purpose is to prevent that from occurring. I think it is potentially very valuable information that could help.”
“It’s a proactive approach to making sure everything is stable,” Abernathy said.
An executive session was held to discuss the Early Intervention Program October 7.
A personnel executive session preceded the meeting and lasted until about 6:30PM
Surveys have been sent to residents in the 700 and 800-block of Fourth Avenue due to Ford City’s attempts to pave portions of the roadway utilizing Community Development Block Grant funds.
Local children will be able to dress up as their favorite characters and trick-or-treat from 6-8PM Wednesday, October 29. The annual Halloween parade will be at 7PM the next day.
Mayor Marc Mantini and council members approved the resignation of Police Officer Bryce Foreback. Mayor Mantini thanked him for his service and called him hardworking.