Cortland Considers Potential City Manager Position – Cortland Voice


Cortland City Mayor Scott Steve (middle) with Councilors Tom Michales (left) and Mary Clare Pennello (right) at Tuesday’s city council meeting. (Photo source: Timothy A. Bennett/Owner and Publisher of The Cortland Voice).

Cortland town leaders are considering bringing in a city manager, drastically changing the town’s government charter, and overseeing day-to-day financial operations.

A city manager, based on a description outlined by the city, would conduct collective bargaining with representatives of city employees, manage insurance, risk mitigation, and all financial affairs, as well as oversee budgetary duties and would handle media inquiries. The city manager would also advise members of the common council on policy decisions, but does not have the right to vote on local legislation.

The potential new position was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Department heads would report to the city manager,” said city mayor Scott Steve. “We give the instructions to the city manager and they follow that. They would be experienced in negotiations, experienced in all other handling of business, (and) human resources.

A city manager would also oversee the hiring, suspension, taking necessary disciplinary action, firing staff members, and optimizing the performance and day-to-day operations of staff members.

Qualifications for the position, described in the city sketch, include previous experience in municipal management, as well as experience as a public administrator. The city manager’s educational qualifications may include training in criminology, public safety, business administration, finance, or accounting.

The new position, Steve said, “would ensure some continuity down the line”.

“(It’s) kind of similar to what the county did over 18 years ago by installing a county administrator,” Steve added. “There has been some success with that. Tax rates have been managed somewhat.

Since the City Manager oversees day-to-day financial responsibilities, officials said this position would essentially be replace the former Director of Administration and Finance.

Steve said the framework for this position had “gaps and issues”. The city has operated without a director of administration and finance since the start of Steve’s term.

“The mayor and council’s priority always remains the same,” Steve said of the proposed city manager position. “It’s an assurance that I feel comfortable with, having a four-year tenure where you have some continuity to do it.”

Mary Clare Pennello (D-3rd Ward) reiterated that while the new position would require an amendment to the city charter, the new city manager is still accountable to lawmakers and the city executive.

“They don’t work independently. They do what we want them to do,” she said. “It’s just a regular position. As we are looking to move the city in a different direction, it would be a chance to do so.

At an upcoming council meeting, the Corning City Manager will answer questions from council regarding the proposed position.


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