York City department heads retiring; mayor says more jobs need to be filled

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich reads aloud the anonymous names of child abuse victims during a ceremony presented by the Children's Advocacy Center on Thursday, April 1. Tina Locurto photo.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich's administration is expected to lose some key figures over the next two months as the city also looks to fill a variety of other jobs.

Helfrich announced on Wednesday that Business Administrator Tom Ray and Health Bureau Director Barbara Kovacs will soon retire. In addition, Helfrich's chief of staff, Philip Given, will be stepping down, and Helfrich will need to step down as acting director of community and economic development.

Meanwhile, city jobs ranging from painters to wastewater plant workers remain unfilled.

“We have so many jobs right now, and (they're) really important jobs," Helfrich said. "You’re going to see a change in the folks who are running the City of York."

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Kovacs' retirement is effective June 30, and Ray will officially retire on July 24. Given will be leaving his position on June 1.

Helfrich, who took over as acting director of community and economic development last year when the York City Council wouldn't back the appointment of Given, is looking for a replacement by September.

Kovacs and Ray, who have worked for the city for 28 years and 11 years respectively, have had their retirements planned, they said.

Ray has been in talks with Helfrich to continue to work with the city as a contractor.

That work would be to ensure a smooth transition with his successor, help with the 2022 budget and complete the sale of the city's wastewater treatment system, Ray said.

Given is stepping down to spend more time as owner of York City Pretzel Co. now that restaurants are reopening. He also plans to provide consulting services for other local restaurants, he said.

All of the soon-to-be vacant jobs are being advertised at www.governmentjobs.com/careers/yorkpa

“We are looking at this as a bit of a rebirth,” Given said. “This is really the mayor’s opportunity to do some serious recruiting."

If a department head position is not filled by the current employee's retirement date, an acting director would have to be appointed from within the department.

Helfrich could also take over as acting director, as he did with the economic and community development position, he said.

But the department head positions aren't all the city needs to fill.

As of Monday, there were 18 jobs listed in the city's website. In addition to the department head posts, positions available ranged from painters to community health specialists.

While the number of open positions is about average for the city, Helfrich said, the positions could much more easily be filled without a residency requirement.

"If nobody is applying from within the city, then you're asking somebody to move into the city," Helfrich said. "This is one of the reasons I want to eliminate the residency ordinance."

Under city policy, nonunion employees must be city residents.

The city's union employees also have residency requirements, but those requirements differ depending on contracts with the various unions.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.