York City seeks economic, community development director — again

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch
Nicole Davis was named the interim director of economic and community development for York City on Thursday, March 7 (Photo courtesy of York City).

Less than three months after York City named a new director of Economic and Community Development, the position is vacant. 

It is one of two vacant full-time positions in the department, and one of at least two department heads in Mayor Michael Helfrich's administration not officially confirmed. 

Former Deputy Director Nicole Davis was bumped to interim director in March, replacing acting Director Shilvosky Buffaloe, a former Mayor Kim Bracey appointee. 

City chief of staff Philip Given will lead the department during the search. 

Helfrich did not comment when asked about the vacant positions. He directed all questions to Given.

Given declined to comment on the reason for Davis' departure, saying it's a personnel matter. 

The city has been searching for a department director since April 4 and advertising for an economic development/redevelopment authority specialist since February, according to the employment listing.  The salary listed for the full-time department director ranges from about $69,000 to $85,500. 

Economic & Community Development Director Shilvosky Buffaloe presents his community action plan during the Alliance of Neighborhood Associations' monthly meeting at Martin Library in York City, Monday, March 21, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The deputy director position was cut during the 2019 budget. 

Given said the department services will not suffer throughout the search for a new head. 

"During my time serving as interim director, my goal is to make sure there are no ongoing gaps in communication, as well as support the team," he said. 

The Department of Economic and Community Development encompasses the bureau of housing services as well as permits, planning and zoning. 

"My role during the transition is to learn a little bit more about what they do and how they function to better support the incoming director when that decision is made," Given said. 

The department director advises the mayor on policy, programs and projects as well as working as a liaison to the community and city council, according to the online job description. The director also serves as secretary to the city redevelopment authority. 

RDA President Michael Black said the vacancy shouldn't negatively affect the board. 

"For the short term, I think we’re okay. Ideally we want somebody in there long-term," he said. 

Philip Given, York City chief of staff, is serving as the interim director of economic and community development (Photo courtesy of York City).

In June, York City officials considered a contract to outsource economic development responsibilities to the York County Economic Alliance, which would have brought 26 employees in to assist. The contract never made it to a city council vote after minority groups said it promoted gentrification in the city. 

It does not seem to be back on the table with the vacant department positions. 

"We certainly may consider other options in the future. Right now what we really are focused on is finding a director to truly lead the department," Given said. 

More:Minorities' concerns scuttle York City plan to outsource economic development

More:Do York City's businesses reflect its people?

More:Helfrich appoints new acting business administrator for York City

More:York City appoints new interim economic and community development director

In addition to the open economic development director post, the city has yet to confirm a business administrator. Helfrich appointed Thomas Ray acting business administrator in January. Ray has not been confirmed by the city council. Acting and interim directors are not subject to council approval. 

Ray was previously deputy business administrator for human resources. He replaced acting Administrator Tommy Williams, who served as acting administrator for five months after Bracey appointee Michael Doweary stepped down. 

Ray was the city's second choice; he was picked after the city pulled a potential appointment of W. Glenn Steckman III, who had recently been fired from a position with the city of Reading. 

There is no active search for a city business administrator, Given confirmed. 

— Rebecca Klar can be reached at rklar@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.