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Allentown appoints new Parks and Recreation and Finance directors

Allentown Parks and Recreation & Finance Directors
Jay Bradley
Director of Parks and Recreation Mandy Tolino (left) and Director of Finance Bina Patel (right) were appointed Wednesday by Allentown City Council.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown City Council on Wednesday set new leadership for two important departments, appointing new Parks and Recreation and Finance directors.

Mandy Tolino, who was Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor's director of trails and conservation, was appointed to take up the mantle of Allentown's director of parks and recreation.

  • Allentown appointed both a new director of parks and recreation and director of finance during Wednesday's city council meeting
  • Mandy Tolino, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor director of trails and conservation, was hired by the council to serve as director of parks and recreation.
  • Bina Patel, a longtime City of Allentown employee, was appointed by the council to the role of Director of Finance.

Tolino, a Bethlehem resident, comes with more than a decade of experience in natural lands and agricultural management, having most recently been the director of trails and conservation for the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and general manager of Tolino Vineyards winery in Bangor.
"I'm really excited," Tolino said. "It's great to be in a city with residents [who] are so engaged and passionate about the city that they live in."

Tolino received a degree in plant science and agricultural education and a master's in urban affairs and public policy at the University of Delaware.

Tolino said she additionally serves on the board of the Bangor Area School District Education Foundation and is a member of Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council.

"Sometimes you get somebody who seems like they're just too good to be true, and that was the case with Mandy," Mayor Matt Tuerk said in his formal introduction of her at the council meeting.

Council member Santo Napoli, as well as some residents in attendance, made comments calling for attention to be put toward reviving or growing access to local recreational sports leagues, such as for baseball and soccer.

"Sometimes you get somebody who seems like they're just too good to be true, and that was the case with Mandy."
Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk

"I know that that's sort of a hot-button topic," Tolino said. "I'll be coming from a fresh perspective and kind of gathering all the ideas from everyone, and really trying to figure out the best way to add programs or figure out ways to make some of the programs that are existing better if possible."

Finance director appointed

Following Tolino's appointment, tax advisor and longtime city employee Bina Patel was appointed by council to the role of city finance director.

Patel has worked with the city since 2007 in various financial and tax examination capacities, completing audit and analysis work, and later a wide variety of accounting and administrative work as a senior financial analyst for the city.

"We did open a search, we saw a handful of candidates that didn't come anywhere close to Ms. Patel," Tuerk said when introducing her for appointment. "So we're excited that sometimes the person who's ready to step up and take the lead is right there in your own house."

Over the past year, she was the interim deputy director of finance for the city, where she supervised operations of all finance departments working closely with former finance director Seth O'Neill in preparing the 2023 budget, Tuerk said.

Patel said getting returns on investments as the city uses American Rescue Plan Act funds will be a key focus, alongside transparency and communication.

"I've been with the city when we were struggling financially," Patel said. "So I'm going to make sure that I keep our cash flow and revenue stream and expenditure in my focus constantly so that we don't deviate, should revenues not be meeting up with our expenditures."

Patel also commended the team of people in the department and said she is aware of the need for good communication having come from it.

"The finance team is my biggest asset," Patel said. "So I'm going to make them feel like they are my asset, and I cannot succeed without my team."

Council President Daryl Hendricks said that it was established in a conversation earlier while speaking with her that she will do everything in her power to make sure the city does not have a tax increase next year — one of Hendricks' goals.

Hendricks commended Tuerk for looking internally for a candidate to fill the position.

Both positions were hired at a salary of $111,000, according to documents related to their appointment.