PITTSFIELD -- Once again, the city has, in effect, been jilted in its attempt to hire a new community development department director.
And the reason again was the salary level, an issue Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said he wants to address concerning all city positions, especially department heads.
Margo Wheeler, director of Community Development in San Bernardino, Calif., had been offered the position in early February, when contract negotiations began, but no agreement could be reached to bring her to Pittsfield, the mayor said.
"We just could not overcome the financial differential," he said. "We said we would do what we could, but we were too far off."
Wheeler visited the city, met with city personnel and seemed excited about moving to the Berkshires, Bianchi said.
The city is attempting to replace the former community development director, Deana L. Ruffer, who left in September to accept a similar post in Chatham. In November, the mayor said that after an initial search for Ruffer's replacement, the top applicant had turned down the job in part because of the salary offer of $73,000.
Another search was begun at that time and that led to the offer to Wheeler, who has worked at development positions in Las Vegas and in other California cities. She now is community development director in San Bernardino, a city of 213,000.
The department director oversees a staff of 14 people that include the city's parks and open space manager,
"We will go back to the drawing board," Bianchi said, adding that he hasn't determined yet whether to re-open the job search or begin a new one.
"And I want to take a look at pay [in the fiscal 2014 budget]," he said. "We have people here who do a great job at all levels. We also have to compete with other areas for candidates."
The Community Development directorship is a three-year position subject to appointment by the mayor that does not require approval by the City Council. However, Bianchi has said he would formally notify the council of his choice.
Community Development staff member Bonnie Galant has been serving as the department's interim director. Bianchi has praised her and other staff members for keeping the department running smoothly. He said Thursday that he is confident the staff can continue to do that until a new director is hired.
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