Debra Schnabel, Bill Seward offer services as interim manager
April 29, 2021
The Personnel Committee Tuesday discussed ways to improve the borough manager hiring process including turning over to the borough clerk responsibility for managing personnel.
The committee also discussed whether to hire a new interim manager as it looks for a permanent hire. Previous borough managers Debra Schnabel and Bill Seward, both fired, have expressed interest in serving as interim.
“Debra Schnabel has expressed interest,” Mayor Douglas Olerud said. “Others have expressed interest. Bill Seward reached out. I’ve been telling people the will of the assembly, as I understood it, is we’re going to be continuing with Ms. Fullerton as our interim manager.”
Assembly member Paul Rogers said that decision should be left to a discussion of the full assembly.
Lenise Henderson, who’s been advising the borough through the hiring process, proposed transferring management duties, saying having stability in personnel could alleviate the stress that comes with a high rate of manager turnover. Haines averages a new manager every two years, a shorter tenure than managers in other Southeast communities, who last between three to six years.
“My idea is we take that piece out of the job description for the borough manager, think about combining it with the borough clerk duties,” Henderson said. “We can hire the borough manager position for capital improvement projects, the budgeting, the financial pieces and not have to worry so much about that people skills piece which sometimes isn’t really that natural with those other work styles and those other job descriptions.”
She said interim borough manager and borough clerk Alekka Fullerton’s background in family law would make her ideal at managing personnel. Fullerton, who applied for the manager position unsuccessfully, said working with staff was the part of the job that appealed to her.
“I am very concerned about providing consistency for staff with respect to that position,” Fullerton said. “I applaud the thinking differently and trying to come up with a way that works better. My knee jerk reaction is I think it could work and I think it could solve a lot of our problems.”
The committee will continue to discuss the idea.
The committee also discussed how it could better advertise the job and whether the public ought to have a greater say in the hiring process, acknowledging that communication to the public was flawed.
“We could be better about allowing people to know where we’re at in the process of following along with us,” Henderson said. “That communication piece wasn’t as robust as it could have been.”
Fullerton suggested posting applicants’ applications so the public can easily view them and provide feedback.
Assembly member Carol Tuynman suggested allowing staff and the public to participate in formulating interview questions and providing input on what the community wants in a borough manager.