By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Another step in the city’s path out of state oversight was taken last week with the announcement of a city manager set to take office this fall.
Emergency Manager Brad Coulter said Matt Coppler, currently town manager of Enfield, Conn., accepted the position and will begin by Oct. 1 as the city’s paid, full-time administrator.
“He’s really experienced in city management,” Coulter said. “As we exit emergency management we need someone to guide the city when I leave.”
Coppler – who will reportedly be paid about $125,000 annually – was one of two candidates who Coulter and the City Council interviewed in June. Coulter said he employed a Detroit-based recruiter to search for candidates.
Coppler has been a city or village manager for more than 20 years in communities in Ohio, New York and Connecticut. The largest city that Coppler had managed is his current post in Enfield, where he served for nine years a population of about 45,000 with a municipal payroll of more than 500 full and part-time employees and a general fund budget of $120 million..
“He wanted to get back into a more hands-on position,” Coulter said. “He’s ready for the challenge of steering a city out of emergency management.”
During interviews with city officials Coppler said he looks forward to helping the city transition from emergency management to a new era of growth and stability.
Coppler is a native of Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University with a master’s degree in Public Administration.
The city has not had a full-time professional manager since the departure of Joe Merucci in 2014 after he served about one year. City Council debated the priority of hiring a new manager just as state officials began reviewing the city’s finances, a process that gave way to last year’s declaration of a financial emergency and appointment of Coulter.
Plans remain for Coulter to end his supervision at the end of the year.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])