Haines’ new borough manager had her first evaluation Tuesday. The positive review turned into a discussion about how the assembly could become more efficient.
Haines has seen a revolving door of borough managers over the past several years.
The most recent manager hire roiled the community. The assembly chose former Chamber of Commerce director Debra Schnabel over the interim manager at the time, Brad Ryan. Ryan had many residents and borough staff members’ vocal support.
Because of the controversy surrounding the decision, Schnabel asked for a three-month evaluation.
“My hire was under some very stressful circumstances,” Schnabel said Tuesday. “I think we all know that it was not only controversial but difficult for everyone. So it was important to me that we keep on track to make sure my performance was meeting the expectations of the assembly.”
Schnabel requested the informal evaluation take place in public.
Assembly member Ron Jackson has been in his seat the longest. His term is ending soon. In three years, he said he’s worked with four different managers.
“A lot of different styles, I’ve seen,” Jackson said. “I like what you’re doing in the manager’s report where you outline a problem, and you come up with a recommendation that is yours and staff’s about where we go, rather than come to us and say ‘so, what do you want me to do?’”
Multiple assembly members complimented the format Schnabel uses in the manager’s report, which is a routine part of each assembly meeting. They said it makes the meetings more efficient and effective.
Then the conversation turned to that issue: efficiency. Schnabel urged the assembly members to talk to her before meetings if they have questions. And she encouraged them to thoroughly read the agenda information before the meeting actually starts.
“Some of this, quite honestly gets to be quite painful for me,” Schnabel said. “When we put together an ordinance or proposal and then you take it apart. And I think ‘wow, if I had realized this question was going to come up I would have proposed different language or something.’ So it’s important for us to have something happen prior to a business meeting.”
The assembly bounced around some ideas, like having an open forum before meetings where the assembly or members of the public can ask the manager questions.
The group didn’t come to any clear consensus on how to make meetings that sometimes extend over four hours more efficient. But they said Schnabel has moved them closer to that goal.