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In Lower Swatara, a struggle to hire the right manager

They say that once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern.

It appears that what is happening with Lower Swatara’s township manager job is the latter, and it’s unfortunate.

Anne Shambaugh resigned Sept. 30 after only 10 months. She followed Sam Monticello and Harry Krot, two managers who each served the township for less than two years. 

Both sides said that Shambaugh left on her own accord. Commissioners ended the employment of Monticello. Krot resigned. Following Krot’s resignation, the manager job was vacant for about a year.

That’s three people who held one of the township’s top managerial positions for each less than two years, and the last with the shortest tenure. That’s not a trend headed in the right direction.

According to Commissioner President Tom Mehaffie, Shambaugh was not asked to resign. “No, she gave her resignation. She’s moving on.”

However, she did not give any reason for her resignation and did not disclose any concrete plans for her future, only saying that “I will take some time off and look at my options.” 

Shambaugh’s background shows she is not someone who jumps from job to job. She left her post as borough manager in Camp Hill to take the Lower Swatara job, having worked for the borough since 2005. 

It’s reasonable to ask why a person making $92,000 a year in a job at which she said she had a “fantastic time” leaves after less than a year, and not for another position but apparently to do nothing.

Maybe the job wasn’t a good fit for her. Maybe there is something else she didn’t want to disclose. But when the township’s manager’s position has rotated that much, it brings up questions about holes in the hiring process (not choosing the candidate who is the best fit for the position) or problems with the work atmosphere or with those for whom she works.

In either case, the township board of commissioners needs to look at itself and make sure that its hiring procedures, from how it draws its pool of candidates to the questions asked during interviews to the selection of the candidate it thinks is best, is at the level it should be. Then, it must look at how that person is treated after being brought on board.

The township has apparently made a solid hire in Frank Williamson, who recently came in as the director of public safety and assistant township manager. He will temporarily assume the manager’s duties. 

Williamson was the director of public safety in Lower Allen Township for more than 15 years as well as Emergency Management coordinator there for more than 10.

Mehaffie said he is unsure of how the commissioners will proceed to fill the township manager position. “We haven’t had time to discuss,” he said.

Depending on how quickly the process goes, he might not even be a part of the next hire. He likely will be elected state representative in November and assume his new post in January. 

New leadership is coming to the township. The manager must be replaced. Williamson is experienced but new to the area. If Mehaffie is elected state representative, there will be a new township commissioner and board president.

Change isn’t always a bad thing. But the revolving door in the township manager office raises serious questions that should be answered for the sake of residents and businesses in Lower Swatara.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 15:02

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