The hunt for a new district manager is officially on. Again.
After spending three months as Community Board 8’s new district manager — and more than three decades in public affairs and relations — Michael Heller is hanging up his hat, he confirmed to The Riverdale Press on Monday.
There isn’t a particular reason, at least from the perspective of doing the job itself, Heller said. Instead, it was simply time to make a change. The former CB8 member-turned-employee said he’s looking for a change of pace, especially since he and his wife are about to embark on a life as empty nesters.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time now,” Heller said. “I’ve reconsidered my lifestyle. My daughter just went off to college and my son is living in another city, so I’ve just decided to make some changes in my daily activities.”
Heller plans to work until November — when he turns 62 and is old enough to collect Social Security — but that doesn’t answer the question of who will replace him.
Heller’s departure will force the community board to hire what would be its fourth district manager in just two years. Although the last search took just one month last April, it’s unclear how many of the 50 applicants during that go-round might apply again — if they’re even qualified for the job in the first place.
Before CB8 hired him, Heller not only was a member and chair of the transportation committee, he was a public affairs expert, having worked in the field since his early 20s, both at the city’s transportation authority and in several hospital systems.
When he took the job last April, Heller expected he’d work longer than he ultimately did.
The decision to leave, however, didn’t come as suddenly to Heller as it did CB8’s leadership after he started sharing his decision with them earlier this week.
“I started thinking about it in May,” Heller admitted. “It started building on me slowly.”
Heller succeeded Patricia Manning as district manager. Manning, a 30-year employee of the board, worked her way into the position, assisting the district manager for years before stepping into the role herself in an acting capacity in 2015 Ultimately, Manning was given the position permanently later that year, but she ultimately decided to retire after 18 months in the role.
Both Manning and Heller made about $75,000 working as district manager, $30,000 less than Manning’s predecessor Nicole Stent, who left the job after eight years to work for Empire State Development, which focuses on boosting women and minority-owned businesses.
Heller said pay wasn’t an issue, however, even though sources close to the board revealed that when his salary was negotiated behind closed doors, some CB8 members thought he should’ve been paid more based on his education and experience.
“The salary was fine,” he said. “As a family, we are doing quite well.”
The concrete costs of finding a new district manager are seemingly minimal, according to the board’s budget. CB8 spent a little more than $560 to advertise the open position in newspapers and online earlier this year.
But that figure does not account for the hours spent by the board’s three-person volunteer search committee milling through cover letters and applications, interviewing candidates, and presenting three finalists to the board’s executive committee before a vote even goes before the full board.
What will Heller do once he steps down in November? He plans to spend more time with his wife now that their children have moved away, and outside of that, some volunteer work.