WESTMINSTER — Mayor W. Benjamin Brown Jr. broke his silence over the council's recent hiring of a new city manager, leveling criticism that the cost ofthe move was excessive.
But one councilman countered that the mayor should review his math when considering the expense of the new hire.
Last week, the council approved the hiring of Philip F. Hertz, a Hanover, Pa., native and borough manager in Metuchen, N.J.
Hertz, who starts Feb. 19, will be paid $57,500 annually. But the mayor saida benefits package will push that figure closer to $75,000, an amount he termed excessive.
Brown said other expenses -- such as hiringa secretary and buying office equipment -- will drive up the cost ofthe hire to about $100,000 annually.
But Councilman Samuel V. Greenholtz said no plans are in the works to hire an additional secretary and that office space will be arranged at minimal cost.
The mayor also chided the council for not looking more closely at two local applicants for the job -- city Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard, andSykesville Town Manager James L. Schumacher were the other two finalists for the job.
"There were two well-qualified candidates willing to take the job at much less cost to the city," the mayor said.
He said the Beyard or Schumacher likely could've been hired closer to$39,000, which was the low end of the targeted salary range for the new position.
However, Greenholtz defended the cost of wooing Hertz to Westminster, saying the new manager's background and ability justify his salary.
"(Hertz) is a leader in his field," Greenholtz said. "This is the ideal city manager. You're not going to get that person cheap. It's the same old story -- you only get what you pay for."
Another sticking point for Brown was that Police Chief Sam R. Leppo was told to turn over to Hertz a city car he has for personal use.Leppo will purchase a new car for the department as a replacement, which the mayor said increases costs of the new hire.
But Greenholtz said all department heads are provided cars and transferring a vehicle from the police department was most economical route.
"That was the cheapest way for the council to go," Greenholtz said. "We spent money that was already budgeted."