The Village of Lancaster has finally started looking for a new special-events coordinator, nearly 6½ weeks after the previous coordinator left when her contract expired.
Village officials first advertised the vacant position in Thursday’s Lancaster Bee. Applicants have until March 1 to put in for the job, and the Village Board likely won’t finish interviewing candidates and selecting a new coordinator until the end of next month.
This means those responsibilities – including planning for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Independence Days and the Taste of Lancaster – will continue to be filled by the former coordinator, Jennie Smith, who is working without a contract.
“I’m doing what I can, but no one seems to be concerned that they don’t have an events coordinator,” Smith, who is running in next month’s village election, told The Buffalo News.
Smith said she informed board members well in advance that she would seek a spot on the Village Board instead of an extension of her contract.
Trustee Kenneth L. O’Brien took responsibility for the delayed start of the search for a new coordinator, admitting he lost track of the issue over the busy holiday season.
“I just forgot about it,” O’Brien said in an interview.
Smith had worked for the village as special-events coordinator on a three-year contract that expired at the end of 2012. She earned $16,810 last year, including a $1,200 raise from 2011, according to village records.
The coordinator’s duties include booking venues, performers and sponsors for the Halloween Parade, Light Up Lancaster and other annual events.
The village took in $96,189 and spent $143,530 on its special-events program during the 12 months between June 1, 2011, and May 31, 2012, according to a village audit, though Smith pointed out that individual events such as Fourth of July festivities broke even.
Smith in November won the endorsement of the village’s ruling Citizens Party to run for a spot on the Village Board, beating out current Trustee Edward Marki in the party vote.
Marki has since made Smith’s pay and performance a target of criticism in his campaign. Smith defends her work and points out that Marki approved the budgets she works with.
Though Smith’s contract has ended, she’s still planning for events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16, which is next on the list. “I just don’t want to see all my hard work go down the drain,” she said.
O’Brien said he knew back in November that the village would need to advertise for a new special-events coordinator but admits he forgot to address the matter and didn’t pick it back up again until recently.
He finally directed Michael E. Stegmeier, the village’s clerk-treasurer, to draw up the job ad and publish it in the village’s official newspaper.
O’Brien said he won’t know how long interviewing will take until he sees how many people apply by the March 1 deadline, but he doubts the board would make an appointment before its March 25 meeting. “I’ve already had numerous people inquiring about it,” O’Brien said.
Smith said she won’t apply for the job and said she hasn’t asked the Village Board to keep the position open for her in case she loses the March 19 election.
She does, however, plan to talk to village officials about reimbursing her for the time she has put in while working without a contract.
“I’m still doing the same amount of work I was doing,” Smith said.
O’Brien said the board will have to discuss whether to pay Smith for filling in until her replacement is hired.