MANCHESTER — When the members of the Town Council this winter hired one of their own to a $400-a-week administrative job in town government, they saidit was a short-term assignment.
But nestled among the expenditures in this year's $830,000 budget is $25,000 for the job, a job that was never advertised, discussed openly or put before the public until after former Councilman David M. Warner was hired in January.
Warner's job is ostensibly a part-time position, although many ofhis duties -- clearing up town procedures, acting as official spokesman, making contacts with other governments and general administrative work -- are the duties of a full-time town manager.
Warner and the town's officials insist that the administrative job is not a manager's job under a different name, but they do say the creation of sucha job is not completely out of the question.
Indeed, to get around the town's prohibition on spending more than $6,000 on a contractual arrangement without a public bidding process, Warner's job is actually a series of 60-day contracts, each worth about $4,000.
That boils down to $20 an hour for up to 24 hours a week. From January untilthe end of June, he was paid $20 an hour for up to 20 hours a week.
And while the town can, of course, refuse to renew his contracts, there is no indication that his string of agreements is in jeopardy.
"I really enjoy what I'm doing now," Warner said last week. "It's good, it's fresh, challenging, interesting and enjoyable."
Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. is pleased with Warner's performance andsays he sees no reason why he wouldn't continue in the job.
Aboutthe only reason, however, would be the actual creation of a full-time town manager. As it stands now, Warner does not have the authority of a full-time manager: He cannot fire or hire employees, he cannot write or sign town checks and he can't negotiate contracts for the town.
But with the retirement of longtime Clerk/Treasurer Kathryn L. Riley expected within a year, serious consideration is being paid to the creation of a manager's job.
But Warner has insisted that he wouldn't be interested in such a post. "In a lot of ways, I am doing the kinds of jobs a manager would be doing," he said. "I'm not sure I want to change the flexibility I have now."
Warner's job came about after closed-door meetings in Novemberand December, when the council was wrestling with how to manage the town once full-time Mayor Elmer C. Lippy Jr. left the Memorial Building for the County Office Building. Warner was still a councilman during those discussions.
He resigned from the council in January and then was awarded the first of several contracts for the newly created projects administrator post.
Warner, 51, officially is hired through his 4-year-old company, P.S. of Manchester, a firm that employs Warner as a sort of handyman and errands-runner.
Warner spent 25 years with the county Board of Education -- 12 years as a teacher and 13 years in transportation. Histaking full-time work could reduce his school board pension.
And while most job openings in government are supposed to be open to an application process, this job, say the town's attorneys, didn't have to be.
But if the town hired a manager, that job would have to be, according to the town's charter.
A manager is expected to cost close to $50,000 a year in salary and benefits. If Manchester were to hire a manager, it would join ranks with Taneytown, Sykesville and Hampstead.