Council hires interim city manager

City Council on Wednesday hired Peter Marshall, former manager of State College Borough and Newark, Del., as interim city manager, replacing Interim City Manager Omar Strohm.

Marshall can shepherd the city through the transition to a new government, if voters in November approve a home rule charter being drafted by a Government Study Commission, according to council members.

Strohm will retain his posts as finance and personnel director.

As manager in previous stops, Marshall has tried to create a culture of transparency, openness and helpfulness, he said. Were there to serve, he said.

He hopes to improve communications between council, staff and the public and keep things running in a positive way, he said.

Council had planned to relieve Strohm of his city-manager responsibilities earlier – probably before the end of 2013 – after saddling him with that title in late July, after the retirement of City Manager Joe Weakland, according to City Manager Bruce Kelley.

We asked Omar to step up and do three jobs, Kelley said. Frankly we [just] didnt get around to it – probably because of various issues, including some connected with the Act 47 recovery plan, Kelley said.

The city didnt try to replace Strohm with a permanent manager because few candidates would be willing to sign on with the likelihood of government change coming, Kelley and others said.

The city didnt advertise for a new interim, but approached Marshall with the offer, after he was touted as worthy by officials at the state Department of Community and Economic Development, members of the Act 47 coordinator team and the Pennsylvania Municipal League, Kelley said.

Council members thanked Strohm for his service.

Asked to evaluate that service, Councilman Dave Butterbaugh said it hadnt been fair to expect Strohm to do three jobs at once.

Its tough to evaluate for one person when hes doing three jobs, Councilman Erik Cagle said. [But] we had enough confidence in his abilities to ask him [to do those jobs].

Prior to taking the post, Strohm had been a periodic manager designee when Weakland was on vacation.

Marshall, a Pittsburgh native and holder of a master’s degree in government administration from Wharton, will earn $95 an hour by contract.

Strohm will earn the combined salaries of finance and personnel director, as listed in the budget, according to officials. Those total $79,000.

Strohm said hes OK with the change.

He didnt campaign to keep the managerial seat, he said.

Maybe its in the best interests of the city, especially given Marshalls credentials, he said. Im a team player.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.