City Manager's Job Disappears With The Council Feud

June 02, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Just three months after Philip F. Hertz moved here to manage the county's largest municipality, he's looking for another job.

In a special City Council meeting Friday afternoon, members unanimously approved an ordinance abolishing Hertz's job and returning all administrative duties to the mayor.

"Nothing which has taken place should be taken as any adverse reflection on Mr. Hertz's character or credentials," said Councilman Kenneth A. Yowan. "In my dealings with him, he was both a gentleman and a professional."

The former borough managerof Metuchen, N.J., began work here in February as a result of a two-year battle between the council and Mayor W. Benjamin Brown. The council had asked for Brown's resignation and passed ordinances transferring most of his powers to a city manager.

However, after the election of three new membersto the council of five May 13, members drafted an ordinance to restore those powers to Brown. Hertz resigned Wednesday after learning thecouncil intended to pass the ordinance. He has since left town and was unavailable for comment.

"He saw the handwriting on the wall and acted accordingly," said Council President William F. Haifley. "It is more courteous for a person to resign than to be eliminated from their position."

Had Hertz chosen to remain a city employee, he would have been offered a position in the Planning Department, said Brown. Hertz would have retained his $57,500 salary for 90 days and then begun receiving the planning position salary, which is in the $20,000to $30,000 range.

Hertz accepted eight weeks' salary as severancepay, Brown said.

"Mr. Hertz was not asked to resign, and Mr. Hertz was not asked to resign as quickly as he chose to," Brown said. "Both his decision and the timing of his resignation were his decision."

Brown said the council was sorry to see Hertz leave.

"Mr. Hertz is a fine man, and no one likes to see anyone get hurt,"he said. "Mr. Hertz was hurt in this situation.

"The fault that I would lay to this is the fault of the previous council in bringing Mr. Hertz into this post in mid-year, three months prior to an election, when I had been saying that this issue would be a central issue in the election."

Council members said some assistance in handling day-to-day city affairs is advisable. They probably will consider creating an administrative assistant position but have not begun discussing it seriously.

"I can't have my hands in everything, and someone to package things would be a help to me," said Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein. "But I want to enjoy Mayor Brown being mayor right now."

Haifleyagreed that some type of "manager" position is necessary.

"I see a void in the city that needs to be filled," he said.

Brown said he has a current city employee in mind to fill the assistant position.However, council members told him they would like time to consider the situation and the employee before making a decision.

Hertz was not asked to take the assistant administrator position because council members did not feel he would be willing to accept the reduction inauthority, Brown said.

"I don't believe honestly that he could accept a position as an administrative assistant to a mayor who wants to continue holding the reins in his own hands and was having a lot ofproblems paying anyone the salary Mr. Hertz was being paid," Brown said.

"When the mayor gets paid $10,000 a year, it seemed a little bit ludicrous to me to have an assistant who is paid nearly $60,000 ayear."

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