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After secretive resignation, Tarentum officials willing to wait to find qualified borough manager

Madasyn Czebiniak
| Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, 8:51 p.m.

Those interested in applying for Tarentum's open borough manager position had better have some experience — a minimum of five years in all aspects of municipal operations, specifically labor negotiations and grant writing.

Candidates also should have a bachelor's degree, preferably in finance or business administration, and knowledge of state and federal funding, grants, borough code and law, and finances.

“We definitely need that to be a strength of theirs,” borough Council Vice President Erika Josefoski said. “They'll know these different things that they can bring to our attention because we're just residents, too. We didn't necessarily go to school for these things. We're learning as we go.”

Borough officials have been looking for a new manager since September, when council approved a severance agreement with Mike Gutonski, who served in the position since May 2015.

Gutonski previously told the Tribune-Review that he felt he had no alternative other than to separate from the borough and the agreement was mutual.

Rick Schuettler, managing director for the Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management, a state association that represents municipal managers, said there is no standard for qualifications for borough managers.

Schuettler said Tarentum's requirements “are a good start.”

He said the borough should look to hire someone who has an undergraduate degree in public administration or business administration, experience in public sector management, and potentially some form of higher education such as a master's degree or training. Belonging to a professional organization such as APMM or the International City Council Management Association also could be helpful, Schuettler said.

“If they're a member of APMM they've ... agreed to adhere to the ICMA Code of Ethics. Part of that code of ethics is that you do continuing education, so you'll know you're hiring someone who has agreed to continuing education to keep themselves up to date on the latest in local government management,” Schuettler said. “I think those are positive things for any community to have.”

Council came up with the requirements through internal discussion, Josefoski said. Council president Eric Carter said they will weed out candidates who aren't a right fit.

“It prevents just anybody (from applying) and prevents us from wasting our time,” Carter said.

It has been advertised on the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs website, Indeed.com, and Craigslist, Josefoski said.

Borough Solicitor David Regoli previously said it is unlikely the position will be filled by anyone on council, which happened twice recently.

Gutonski was council president when he was hired to succeed Bill Rossey as borough manager in 2015. Rossey was a 2nd Ward councilman when he was hired for the position in 2006.

Josefoski said council is looking to hire someone without personal ties to council.

“Sometimes (candidates have) moved from the other side of the state to take on a position like this,” Josefoski said. “It's not an easy position, but it's probably the most important one in the borough.”

Gutonski was hired at a salary of $54,000 and Rossey was hired at a salary of $54,500. Officials said the new borough manager's salary will depend on their experience and credentials.

“If we get somebody that's extremely qualified that we feel is going to move this forward in a better direction then what's it been, we're going to have to pay for it,” Carter said.

Filling the position could take time, officials said.

Council and office staff are running the borough until a new manager is found.

“We're going to find the most qualified person, we're going to find the right fit for us,” Josefoski said. “If that takes six months, then that takes six months.”

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, mczebiniak@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.

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