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Munhall hires permanent borough manager

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 4:41 a.m.

Munhall, which has been in a state of financial disarray since former borough manager Matt Galla abruptly resigned last June, has a permanent replacement for that position.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved hiring Crafton borough manager Robert Callen at a rate of $70,000 per year plus benefits, effective April 14.

“I think the stars kind of aligned up right for Munhall,” council president Dan Lloyd said. “We were going through a lot of stuff and we can't wait till he gets here.”

The search for a full-time manager began in November. Lloyd said former interim manager Tim Little and Michael Foreman, a local government policy specialist with the Governor's Center for Local Government Services, worked with the hiring committee to find qualified candidates.

“It was a blind resume process and a matrix was built with all the candidates so nobody knew who they were — only their qualifications,” Lloyd said. “We picked the best five and they all came in for interviews in January. As a result, we brought two candidates back and both of them were very well qualified.”

Lloyd said Callen, however, is the perfect fit.

Callen, who lives in Peters Township and won't be required to reside in Munhall because of an ordinance passed in December, is no stranger to the Steel Valley. He was an executive at the Steel Valley Council of Governments for about a decade before he transitioned into municipal planning for Duquesne Light and Pittsburgh-based consulting firm RDM.

He received a bachelor's degree from St. Vincent College, a master's degree from Duquesne University and a master of public administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

“We wanted somebody with a lot of experience, not a little bit of experience,” Lloyd said. “(Callen) is versed in all facets of government and is a hands-on manager — not just an administrator.”

Lloyd said Callen showed up at his first interview with a bound and detailed analysis of Munhall's budget and pointed out 10 things he thought were issues for the borough.

“He was right on eight out of the 10 things and the only reason he didn't get the other two is because there were different things going on with them that he couldn't have known about at the time,” Lloyd said. “He's that good. He knew what was going on in Munhall just by looking at how the numbers fell from the budget.”

In fact, although Callen's first day in Munhall will be April 14, he'll be in Harrisburg the next day to receive a Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence.

“That shows you right there how lucky we are to have gotten him,” Lloyd said. “Especially now.”

Callen, who said he's well aware of Munhall's recent woes, believes this marks part of a new beginning for the embattled borough.

“Munhall has got no place to go but up,” Callen said. “And I want to be a part of that.”

Lloyd said interim borough manager Harry Faulk, who held the position since the departure of Little in December, will retain a position with the borough but that role has not yet been determined.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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