by Terry Rogers
The City of Milford recently announced that they had hired two new staff members. Louis C. Vitola will serve as the new Finance Director, taking over for Jeff Portmann who plans to retire this year. Michael Svaby was recently hired as the new Public Works Director, replacing Mark Whitfield who accepted the position of City Manager.
Svaby was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He moved to Delaware in 1987 while serving in the United States Air Force as a Financial Manager at Dover Air Force Base. He currently lives in Magnolia. While serving in the Air Force, Svaby graduated from Wilmington University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master’s in Business Administration. He ahs worked in Public Works in the State of Delaware as well as New Castle County government since leaving the Air Force.
“The biggest challenges in this job will be bringing people together in a team and building consensus,” Svaby said. “We all need to be working together for a common goal. I am eager to face challenges and lead the team strongly to achieve the City’s goals.” Svaby says he went into public service b he enler joys meeting people and working together as a community. He spends his leisure time with his family, cooking and working in the yard.
Vitola has a long career in finance, including jobs with Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation, the City of Newark, the State of Delaware and the Town of Middletown. He has served on many committees in a financial capacity as well as working for a Fortune 500 energy and chemical firm. He holds a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of Delaware. He also volunteers his time in such organizations as the Rotary, Meals on Wheels, Little League, Fastpitch Softball and more. He is originally from Ambler, Pennsylvania, and currently lives with his three children in Middletown.
“I always knew Milford was a beautiful city at the threshold of Delaware’s beach communities,” Vitola said. “I learned a lot about the City’s character and leadership while partnering with American Municipal Power on Milford’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project. Milford’s appeal strikes me in different ways; it is a large and growing full-service public power community, yet it maintains he small-town charm that can be elusive in a growing city.
Vitola pointed out that Milford’s financial profile is strong and has been well-managed for decades. He feels his most significant challenge inheriting a successful team is to sustain the positive momentum through the transition period and into the future. He looks forward to building on that success in the face of operational and economical challenges, particularly those emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I accepted my first municipal finance position two blocks from my home early in 2006 and immediately fell in love with municipal finance and the public utility business model,” Vitola said. “Municipal finance wields the same fundamental challenges as private sector finance but offers the satisfaction of community service. Likewise, public utilities operate in the same complex, competitive arena as investor-owned utilities while focusing efforts on serving the needs of the community rather than delivering profits to shareholders.”
In his spare time, Vitola is normally found on a softball field, track meet, cross country race or tennis court, watching his children have fun doing what they love. He stated that tennis has overtaken golf as his personal favorite passion, but he loves spending time outdoors and doing any type of exercise.
“I hope to leverage my experience in municipal finance and public utilities to support the City’s delivery of fantastic service using technology and efficiencies,” Vitola said. “But I also want to remember to keep it simple and avoid overcomplications.”
Svaby is also excited to begin his career in Milford.
“I am thrilled to be joining a very talented and diverse team,” Svaby said. “As I get to know everyone and their strengths and areas of expertise, I am excited about working on the City’s Public Works projects and serving Milford with the public works service they enjoy.”