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10 sought Leetsdale manager post

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By Joanne Barron
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The search for Leetsdale's new borough manager has been narrowed to four candidates, and council President Joe McGurk said council members hope to have a new manager in place by the end of the year.

The borough received 10 applications after working with Michael Foreman, southwest regional representative for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, or DCED, to place ads in several Pittsburgh-area newspapers over a two-week period.

The four top candidates have been interviewed by the borough's personnel committee, but a decision has not been made yet on who will be hired.

Resident Tom Belcastro voiced his concern at last week's council meeting about paying both a borough manager and borough secretary Elizabeth Petalino, for a year. Petalino plans to retire at the end of 2014.

McGurk said that including benefits, the new borough manager's position will cost about $80,000 a year. Petalino's position costs about $53,000, which includes benefits. He also said borough officials are planning to hire a full-time secretary.

At one point, McGurk said, the borough will be paying Petalino, the new secretary and new borough manager at the same time.

“We might be paying more than we want to for awhile, but there was a long time we didn't have a borough manager and paid nothing,” he said.

After former borough manager Paul Scimio was fired last year, McGurk said, he has been “pseudo manager,” putting in about 20 or more hours a week at no pay.

“We wanted to make sure we could meet with everyone in the borough who had complaints. We needed someone to do that. Liz can't go out and do that. So because I'm retired, I was elected,” he said.

Before he filled in as manager, he said, he agreed with some other residents who think Leetsdale does not need a manager. He said he was wrong.

Resident Jerry Freeble said he thinks council should “put on the brakes a little” before hiring a borough manager and try to hire someone from the Leetsdale area instead of an “outsider.”

He said council members should have gone through the hiring process themselves instead of getting help from DCED.

McGurk said three of the candidates are from Western Pennsylvania, including one from Pittsburgh, and the other is from West Virginia.

“We took great pains to work with Michael Foreman to make sure it was a fair procedure,” McGurk said.

When selecting the four nominees, the personnel committee had no names or addresses, only credentials. Each candidate had been assigned a number. McGurk said three of the committee members chose the same numbers. The fourth had different numbers, but the panel came to an agreement.

Joanne Barron is a staffwriter for Trib Total Media.

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