George Hayfield is officially no longer Johnstown’s city manager.
During a special meeting on Thursday, City Council unanimously voted to accept his letter of resignation that was submitted on Oct. 31. Hayfield did not state a reason for his decision, but wrote that he appreciated the “time I have spent here in service to the City” and that it was a “pleasure working with city council, city staff, and the fine people of the City of Johnstown.”
Some council members raised questions about Hayfield’s leadership, especially Charlene Stanton and Jack Williams, who introduced a resolution calling for his removal for what they considered to be multiple violations of Johnstown’s Home Rule Charter.
The departure of Hayfield, who had two months left on his contract, is the latest example of turnover in City Hall.
He was the sixth city manager since 2014, following Kristen Denne, Carlos Gunby, Melissa Komar, Arch Liston and Curt Davis (interim).
“It is an issue,” said Deborah Grass, the city’s coordinator in Pennsylvania’s Act 47 program for distressed municipalities. “It destabilizes the city. But, to be honest, this is probably the best shape we’ve been in in terms of department directors. The department directors are great. The incoming council (in January) appears to be really a good council.
“In the past, the issue has been the salary, and the location and the fact that the city manager has to be a resident of the city, which can provide some challenges, hurdles.”
City Council will likely begin its search for a replacement in January 2020 when a new board is in place. The next council will include five current members – Mayor Frank Janakovic, Deputy Mayor Marie Mock, the Rev. Sylvia King, Dave Vitovich and Ricky Britt.
Stanton and Williams will be gone. They will be replaced by the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s general election during which Chuck Arnone finished first, but an unofficial tie of 1,474 votes apiece still exists for second between Donald Buday and Michael Capriotti.
When asked what he will look for in a new city manager, Arnone responded, “Confidence. The ability to lead. The ability to set the example. Does he care about individuals in each department?”
Arnone also said a city manager needs to come to meetings fully prepared to answer questions, which some council members criticized Hayfield for not always doing in their opinions.
He feels it is important for a city manager to “lead by example.”
Council also withdrew a resolution to name Jason Dailey, owner of a consulting firm in western Pennsylvania, as interim city manager at a rate of $125 per hour, not to exceed $7,000 per month.
“He just said that he had a family emergency and personal issues and he wasn’t going to be able to devote the time that would be necessary to do the job,” Grass said.
The city’s finance director, Robert Ritter, will remain as acting city manager.