Yes, the man who will be Bridgeville’s new borough manager has loads of experience. He was 22 years old when he got his first job running a small town government.
And yes, Joe Kauer also has a real, proven talent for finding and securing grant money to fund local initiatives. His efforts as manager of Ambridge, Pa. fueled a revitalization effort that is altering perceptions of that community.
But when Bridgeville councilmembers were considering who would replace replace retiring manager Lori Collins, it didn’t hurt Kauer’s case that he lives in Bridgeville and has an extensive record of community involvement.
“Once we vetted the applicants and completed our interviews,” said council president William Henderson, “it was quite clear that Joe had what we were looking for. His level of experience that he brings with him fits nicely for our immediate needs.”
Council voted unanimously Monday night to hire Kauer at an annual salary of $92,500. He will start work on July 27.
“Joe is a Bridgeville guy,” Henderson said. “He has rooted his family here and has a strong desire to help us achieve our plans.”
A Chartiers Valley graduate, Kauer has lived in Bridgeville since 2008. He currently sits on the borough’s planning commission and volunteers with the Presto Fire Department.
For the past six years, Kauer has been manager of Ambridge, Pa. where his financial savvy helped the community go from five years of budget deficits to three years of budget surpluses.
When he assumes the top job in Bridgeville, Kauer will have several plates full of problems to tackle. Judging by his resume, multitasking will not be a problem. Shorty after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, he became manager of Heidelberg Borough at age 22. At the same time, he worked as Carnegie’s acting treasurer and borough secretary. A few years later, he also began writing grant applications for Collier Township, a gig that he kept even as he was hired to run Ambridge.
“I have always taken great pride in my work,” Kauer said, “and I’m excited to be part of the municipal team that works so hard making Bridgeville the great place that it is.”
His record of balancing budgets and securing millions of dollars in grant money for communities was of particular interest to Bridgeville council as they evaluated candidates. Some of the issues facing the community—such as flood control and traffic— may require significant financial investments.
“The grant writing experience is a tremendous asset,” Henderson said. “He has a long list of successful grant applications for several municipalities as well as for volunteer fire departments.”
In Ambridge, he helped organize funding for business district revitalization, park rehabilitation efforts, blight removal projects, and historic preservation efforts—issues which aren’t unfamiliar to Bridgeville residents.
But for Kauer, the measure of a municipal manager’s success doesn’t like in dollar figures—instead, it’s whether residents are proud of their community.
For years, Ambridge has had a negative reputation. If it wasn’t the drug trafficking and overdoses, it was the economic problems or, more recently, the former police chief facing various criminal charges. But that image has started to soften, with some people suggesting that Ambridge could be Beaver County’s answer to Lawrenceville.
“[In Ambridge] I’m proud that I was able to help improve the quality of life for 7,000 citizens, and be a part of a community that now takes a little more pride in their town than before,” he said.
As he turns his attention toward Bridgeville, Kauer wants residents to know that improving the community is process that should include many voices.
“I look forward to working with members of Council, Mayor, staff, appointed officials and citizens in helping to continue the progress being made in Bridgeville,” he said.
“I have faith that as a team we can start approaching these issues more together versus thinking Council or Planning Commission can solve all of our problems. We all have a role, place and a voice – I hope I can be a player in advancing the visions of Borough Council while continuing to address many of the issues that are before us. I look forward to serving the community and my door will always be open.”