Jim Baker, York County's new manager

You may see him at the York County Council meeting tonight, but the county's new manager, James Baker, won't officially be on the job until Tuesday.

Baker formerly was a high level administrator in St. Louis County, Mo., a county with more than 1 million residents. He held that position for 16 years before retiring. He replaces Al Greene, who left the York County position in December.

Baker's job as county manager will be to carry out policies and actions set by the county council. He also will put together the county's budget, regulate expenditures, and hire and fire department heads, among other tasks.

Terms of Baker's payment package will not be decided until tonight during an executive session of the council meeting, said Council Chairman Buddy Motz. Greene's salary was $123,000 plus automobile and health benefits, said Teria Sheffield, assistant county manager.

In York on Friday, Baker was getting ready. He took time to talk with The Herald:

Q: What are your plans for the first day?

A: First of all, I have to get acquainted with the folks there and what the current issues are. That's the first thing.

Q: What are your immediate and long-term goals for the county?

A: My goals are always to look for opportunities to improve and make things better. I am not familiar with York County yet, but on a general level I look to assess and make improvements on a month-to-month and year-to-year basis.

Q: Where will you be living?

A: In an apartment close by in downtown York.

Q: Do you plan on walking to work?

A: You know, I understand that it's a very short distance so I will probably walk to work. This will be a nice change from my previous job, where I was 22 miles away.

Q: What have you been doing to prepare for your position in York County?

A: Monitoring local newspapers and talking to people in York County. I really want to talk with all seven councilmen and see what the county does well and the areas that we need to improve on, whether it be any countywide concerns or important issues in their district.

Q: Tell The Herald something about yourself that people do not know.

A: Actually, I just finished putting down hardwood floors in my home (in Missouri) and a staircase. It seems like every time I make major improvements to my home, I end up moving (laughing). I also used to sing as weddings and churches, but I don't do that as much anymore.