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Mayor keeps public, City Council in loop

Mayor Derek Slaughter spent his initial month in office getting used to his new job.

He’s also tackling the city finances, and keeping City Council and the citizenry informed about administrative changes and policy proposals.

Slaughter serves as chief executive officer of the city and that has in the past caused rifts with council, especially when policy ideas or changes are sprung on its members with little or no warning.

Thus far, Slaughter’s ability to keep council up to date has been a welcomed change from the prior administration, according to Council President Randall J. Allison.

In terms of righting the city financial ship, Slaughter considered it as job one.

“Our initial focus has been on buttoning up city finances and evaluating our general organization,” Slaughter said in a report he released.

Council leadership approved of the mayor’s priorities.

“Having been in office for 10 years …. the city has not had a strategic financial plan,” Allison said.

Slaughter’s review of contracts and agreements to update and improve contract language has included agreements with: Hiawatha, Endless Mountains Transportation Authority (EMTA) and the Williamsport Parking Authority and others.

“We’ve lacked a financial plan for the present and the future,” Allison said. “It’s always been a year-to-year grab bag.”

In the past, the financial department operated as best it could under restrictions, Allison said. “It was a flawed way of doing finances.”

Additionally, Slaughter noted, he’s filling administrative positions and updating the appointments and reappointments to various boards throughout the city.

Another issue Slaughter’s taking on is sending out request for proposals (RFPs) as part of the Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP).

The program, which is made available to Williamsport through the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), is expected to help as the city develops and implements a multi-year financial strategic plan.

The program is for cities to assist them and prevent fiscal distress, the department officials said.

“I have spoken with other state mayors whose cities have participated in this strategic financial planning process,” Slaughter said. “Their endorsements have been strong and clear,” he said.

By using the program, the city can manage tax dollars more effectively, he said.

“We welcome changes in the way we look at things, having an outside entity look at our way and maybe have suggestions,” Allison said.

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