By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- The town's new community development position remains unfilled as Front Royal officials work to tweak the job description.
But officials say they don't want to rush into filling it. They may now look to Front Royal's neighbors for guidance as officials shape the new position.
Town Manager Steven Burke said Wednesday that council has reviewed applications submitted and developed a shortlist. Council has requested applicants to provide more information, and it has discussed the position with the economic committee led by Mayor Timothy Darr.
"Based on some of that discussion, council is considering a change in how we're pursuing that position," Burke said.
Vice Mayor N. Shae Parker suggested at the end of council's work session Monday that Front Royal ask other jurisdictions for job descriptions. Parker said Wednesday the town's efforts might be far-reaching but noted that Front Royal is moving into new territory.
"It is a rather big endeavor," Parker said. "That was sort of part of the reason in my inquiry into what some of the other communities were doing -- let's not give this person too much but, still at the same time, since it is a community development and essentially a marketing position, it is nice to know what others are doing so that you can be competitive with the other communities."
In Shenandoah County, New Market recently filled a new marketing and events coordinator position funded through an increase in the hotel tax. Brandon Davis serves as that county's director of community development, and his office oversees economic development as well as planning and zoning, building inspections and the conservation easement authority. Strasburg created and filled its economic development and planning manager position in 2013.
Parker noted the broad scope of marketing and community development, but acknowledged that the hiring process has taken longer than usual, likely because this is a new position.
Town officials aren't necessarily rethinking the position.
"We are evolving what we're looking for," Burke said. "Until we've actually obtained the outside job descriptions, I don't know which direction we'll be going."
In late November, Town Council authorized Burke to advertise the position of community development director. The town budget includes $50,000 for that position.
Not all council members have supported the idea out of fear that a community development director would duplicate services already provided by other employees or departments. Parker noted that the town has a tourism director and an economic development director.
"You don't want to recreate the same position," Parker said. "You don't want to replicate a task that's already being done, so it's trying to ascertain exactly what it is you want this person to do."
Town Council recently stopped paying a share of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority's operating costs. EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald had advised council that her agency already offers many services a community development director may provide. The town contributed $26,855 to the agency's operating budget and $97,477 in its capital budget for fiscal 2013. Warren County now covers 100 percent of the EDA's operating costs. The town still funds part of the EDA's capital spending as determined by a fair-funding formula. Meanwhile, the EDA continues to provide economic development services to both jurisdictions.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com