By LIZ BUTTON
Harold Porr III, Bronxville’s village administrator, retired on March 27 after 10 years on the job, and his departure commences the search for a permanent replacement.
In the meantime, Donald P. Marra, the former mayor of Dobbs Ferry, has been appointed interim village administrator and is assisting in the personnel search to find a new full-time administrator to take Porr’s place.
Before his tenure in Bronxville, Porr, 62, served as executive assistant to the Orange County executive for 10 years. That was followed by stints as city manager of Long Beach in Nassau County, city manager of Newburgh and as city administrator in Poughkeepsie.
”I’m retiring because I’ve reached a crossroads in terms of age and years of service where I believe it’s time to move on,” said Porr, who lives in Yonkers, less than a mile from Village Hall.
Porr, who has been married to his wife Joan for 42 years and has three children and three grandchildren, said he has another job to go to but is not ready to announce his next move quite yet.
Being a village administrator in Bronxville means being in charge of all department heads, so on a daily basis, Porr said his schedule involves reviewing all police, public works, financial and personnel matters. And, he is also the village’s point person in an emergency. When natural disasters hit, like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, he coordinates with utilities, the public works department and public safety officials to keep the roads open and people’s lights on.
Some of his accomplishments serving at the helm in Bronxville include renovating Village Hall in 2007, a project that came in on time and on budget, Porr said, as well as participating in the 2010 reevaluation of all properties in the village and the updating of all home assessments.
During his tenure, Porr also negotiated various contracts with unions including the teamsters, the police and the library workers’ CSEA collective bargaining unit. In addition, Porr made an effort over those 10 years to improve the village’s local business economy.
“I got involved in a lot of economic development to keep the downtown vibrant,” he said.
Naming the village’s most recent successful project, Porr said he is proud Bronxville has concluded the sale of the Kensington Road property to a developer that will go on to turn it from a parking lot into a residential housing development.
When it comes to providing guidance to Bronxville’s next administrator, Porr advises that he or she take good advantage of the community, as there are a lot of residents with talent who are willing to lend their time and expertise as volunteers on the village’s behalf.
Looking back as he steps down from his position, he said he is happy to leave the village in a strong financial position with a AAA bond rating and a healthy budget of approximately $13 million. Porr also points to efforts throughout his tenure to raise the professionalism of the village’s staff of 65 by instituting more training and encouraging a better understanding and use of technology.
Although he didn’t initially set out with this specific goal in mind, Marra will step into Porr’s administrative role until a permanent replacement is found.
Marra, who became a municipal management consultant after serving in numerous consecutive public service positions including village administrator of Irvington, said that when he heard that Bronxville was looking for a new village administrator, he wrote to Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, to ask if she and the board needed any assistance with the search. The Board of Trustees hired him as a search consultant for a fee of $10,000 and voted to make him interim administrator on March 18 after making the determination that a temporary replacement was needed to keep the village running smoothly while the search proceeded. Marra, 66, will be paid an hourly salary of $100 in his role as administrator, but will not be a village employee.
Marra will carry out the two job functions simultaneously.
The search for a successor is about two-thirds complete, according to Marra. As a management consultant, something he started in 2007, he has also been involved in six other searches for village managers and administrators previously in the communities of Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, among others.
“The period of time [I will remain interim manager] depends on when we hire someone and how long that person would need to leave their job if they are already working for a municipality when they are hired,” said Marra, who accepted Bronxville administrator candidate applications until a cut-off date of March 21.
The task before Marra, who lives in Dobbs Ferry, is to “keep the boat afloat” until a new village administrator is selected, while providing good leadership and administrative support just as the village is used to with Porr, he said.
Marra, who ran for elected office as a Republican, was a Dobbs Ferry trustee from 1982 to 1989 and went on to serve five terms as mayor of Dobbs Ferry from 1989 to 1997, but resigned during his fifth term to serve as the assistant superintendent of Irvington schools from 1997 to 2001. After that, he worked as Irvington’s village administrator from 2001 to 2007.
Before working in a municipal capacity, he taught technical education and woodworking at Irvington High School for more than 20 years.