ITHACA, N.Y.—The search for a city manager for the City of Gorges is starting. But it is still up in the air what the pay will be for the inaugural chief executive officer of the city, who will be tasked with heading up Ithaca’s new governance structure in 2024. 

The City of Ithaca’s Common Council unanimously approved on Wednesday creating the position of a city manager, agreeing to determine the position’s salary “at a later date” in the resolution that was passed. No discussion took place prior to the vote.

Residents of the City of Ithaca voted to approve the transition to a city manager form of governance in a ballot referendum in November 2022, setting in motion months of preparations in City Hall. The city manager will be tasked with overseeing the administration of city functions, which the Mayor’s office has been responsible for. The role of Mayor will become that of the city’s political leader. Under the city manager governance structure, the mayor will gain a vote on Common Council. The mayor currently votes only in the instance of a tie needing to be broken between the 10 members of council.

Mayor Laura Lewis previously told The Ithaca Voice that a new city manager would “probably command a slightly higher salary than the current chief of staff.” The transition to a city manager governance structure comes with the elimination of the position of chief of staff in the City of Ithaca.

Dan Cogan, who was the city of Ithaca’s Chief of Staff for five years before stepping down in May 2021, was salaried at $116,091 in 2021 according to payroll data made available by The Empire Center, a non-partisan think tank which publicizes data from state government entities. Cogan’s salary from 2021 is the most recent pay for a chief of staff that’s available.

During their Wednesday meeting Council also unanimously approved up to $25,000 of spending for Dr. Ian Coyle of the consulting firm Pracademic Partners to help fill the city manager position. 

Coyle, who is also the County Administrator for Livingston County in Western New York, has already worked with City Hall to develop the role of Ithaca’s city manager. He will be conducting targeted outreach, developing selection tools for the search, and selecting a group of final candidates for the city manager position according to the resolution council approved on Wednesday. The resolution states that retaining Coyle throughout the search process came at the recommendation of Mayor Laura Lewis.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn