Manchester Considers Town Manager Post

December 05, 1990|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,SUN STAFF

Record - 258 DIALOG(R)File 714:(Baltimore) The Sun (c) 2004 Baltimore Sun. All rts. reserv.

MANCHESTER - For the last three years or so, getting an audience with the mayor was as easy as picking up your phone.

Elmer C. Lippy Jr. -- the former mayor who on Monday began his job as a County Commissioner -- never let the fact that the mayor technically was supposed to be a part-time executive who earned less than $25 a week get in the way of a day's work.

Not constrained by a full-time job to pay the rent or a hellish commute to the town's Memorial Building -- he lives right up York Street -- Lippy often spent up to eight hours a day in his sparsely furnished office.

While there, he maneuvered the town through a complex $11 million sewage treatment plant expansion, answered phone calls from residents and reporters and saw to the day-to-day management of Manchester's 14 employees.

Many in town government and out have said that he was essentially a town manager -- without the pay.

Town officials say they are pleased with the selection of two-term Councilman Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. as Lippy's replacement, but his full-time job as a technician with Colonial Pipeline will keep him out of the Memorial Building most days.

And it will leave a huge after-hours workload, which will include ending the ongoing sewage saga, finding and keeping a police chief, writing the town's annual budget and a host of other tasks required of a mayor.

Those are tasks -- when combined with growth, zoning disputes, citizen complaints and everything else that crops up in this town of 2,741 people -- best handled by a full-time professional manager, town officials say.

"I certainly think a manager is needed here," said Councilman David Warner. "As dedicated as I know Tim Warehime is for the job, there is no way he can put in the time Elmer did."

Attempts to reach Warehime for comment Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful. Lippy also could not be reached.

While no formal discussion of creating a town manager's job here has taken place, word has been out for months that the Town Council would need to look into one seriously once Lippy left office.

Lippy has left a town in the midst of change, with a new mayor, two new council members since August, a tight budget and the search for its fourth police chief in less than five years.

"It looks like there is plenty of support for a town manager," said John A. Riley, a Manchester town councilman who took office in August to fill the unexpired term of Councilwoman Diane D. Maddox. He also is the full-time manager of neighboring Hampstead.

"I've always thought that's how they should be running things up there," Riley said.

In addition to Hampstead, two other Carroll municipalities -- Sykesville and Taneytown -- have full-time managers. Westminster is in the midst of a search for its first manager.

The cost of a manager will make hiring one here all but impossible before the beginning of the next budget year in July 1991, officials said.

Estimates peg the salary of a full-time manager for a town like Manchester in the $28,000 to $40,000 range, with another $8,400 to $12,000 in benefits.

The current $817,000 budget leaves little room for any additional costs, let alone the price of a manager, Warner said.

At the same time the council is looking into creating a manager's position, it also must fill the council seat opened when Warehime became mayor and select a new police chief.

The council and mayor last night interviewed residents interested in Warehime's seat, which expires in 1993. None would disclose who is likely to be appointed, saying that the selection will be made during next Tuesday's regular council meeting.

Among those applying for the post are Charlotte B. Collette, head of the Planning Commission for 15 years, and Larry Gouker, head of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The search for a new police chief is expected to extend at least into January. The post, which will pay between $20,000 and $25,000, was opened last month when Chief M. Earl Isennock told the council he wanted to become an officer.

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