York mayor's pick to manage city business is Reading official recently fired without explanation

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich speaks during an awards ceremony for city teachers at the York City School District Administration Building Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. According to the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment, York City students throughout the district exceeded the standard for PA Academic Growth. “Shining Star” teachers were recognized during the event. Bill Kalina photo

After five months of searching, York Mayor Michael Helfrich's choice to fill the vacant city business administrator position is a former Reading official recently fired without explanation.

The York City Council will vote on  W. Glenn Steckman III's confirmation during its Wednesday, Jan 2, meeting, according to a draft agenda

Steckman became the managing director for the city of Reading in June 2016, and he was one of three city employees fired the week of Sept.18, according to the Reading Eagle

He held a news conference the day after his termination, saying the city of Reading "is now unstable" and claiming the media was alerted to his firing before he was notified, according to the newspaper. 

A number could not be reached to contact Steckman, and Reading officials did not return a call for comment. 

More:York City Council passes $108M budget adding funding for Penn Market

More:York City Mayor Michael Helfrich's first year graded - from B to D

More:New owners seek input on future of The Accomac after $1M sale

At his news conference, Steckman told reporters he was called late the night of Sept. 10 and asked to give immediate advice to a friend of Reading Mayor Wally Scott regarding a personal situation, according to the Eagle.

Steckman said he made the call, but he did not elaborate further, the newspaper reported.

Around 9:50 p.m. on Sept. 12, Steckman said, Scott called to tell him he would be placed on administrative leave, according to the Eagle. 

Before the news conference, Scott said he asked Steckman to release him of liability so he could explain to the public, according to the Reading Eagle. Scott also denied sending media copies of Steckman's termination letter, the newspaper reported.

Neither Scott nor Steckman gave a reason as to why Steckman was fired, according to the Reading Eagle. 

'Most qualified': Helfrich said he would not comment on his potential new hire but added that Steckman was chosen "because I thought he was the most qualified candidate." 

The York City mayor said his administration received 27 applications. The search narrowed to six, and two of those candidates withdrew before interviews began. 

The administration interviewed four candidates, he said. 

'Personnel issue': York City Councilman H. Michael Buckingham said he could not comment on Steckman because "it's a personnel issue." 

However, he said the council has been discussing the candidate. 

"I can't say what we are or are not aware of," Buckingham said. "We're in middle of that discussion." 

The other four council members did not return calls for comment on Friday afternoon. 

If approved by council members, Steckman's starting salary in York will be $106,000, according to the draft resolution

York City Business Administrator and Bracey campaign surrogate Michael Doweary, front, debates York City mayoral candidate Michael Helfrich in Weinstock Lecture Hall at York College of Pennsylvania in Spring Garden Township, Thursday, April 20, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The position: The York City business administrator's responsibilities include supervising and coordinating the administrative functions of all city departments, according to city officials.

Other duties include assisting the mayor in preparing the budget, administering a centralized purchasing system, supervising personnel policies and maintaining oversight of city expenditures. 

Helfrich said the Reading city managing director position is similar to that of York's business administrator. 

York City's position became vacant when former business administrator Michael Doweary resigned in July. Deputy business administrator Tommy Williams stepped up as acting business administrator during the interim. 

Doweary's salary in 2018 was $110,000 after receiving a $16,000 raise approved in the 2018 budget vote. Helfrich, then council president, was one of two to vote against the budget, citing the administration raises as his reason. 

Wednesday's meeting will begin at 6 p.m., starting with a public comment section on non-agenda items.