MANCHESTER — In what should be surprising to few of this town's 2,800 residents, a full-time manager will be hired by July.
As the Town Council draws up its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, it will wrap up all of the necessary legal, bureaucratic and practical details of paying a professional manager to run the day-to-day operations of this227-year-old North Carroll town.
Since the departure of former Mayor Elmer C. Lippy, now a county commissioner, two years ago, the council has been grappling with the idea of hiring somebody to take charge of the nearly $1 million-a-year business of running the town. As an interim measure, the council hired one of its own -- David M. Warner -- to serve as a part-time administrator. He has served in the $25,000-a-year post since last January.
It is Warner, however, who will lose his job when a manager is on board. He is in the middle of drawing up the necessary ordinances,job descriptions and budgetary implications associated with the new post. Warner does not want the full-time post.
"I think the council hopes to be ready to go by July," Warner said before last night's regular council meeting. "That's when I'm going to be out of a job."
The manager's duties will resemble those of a company president; the person will carry out directives from the council, have the authority to write checks, to make day-to-day decisions and will be able to represent the town at official functions.
Whoever becomes manager will be paid a salary ranging from $28,000 to $30,000, Warner said. Several town residents have expressed informal interest in the job so far, he said, declining to identify any of them.
At that salary, Manchester's manager will be one of the lowest paid in the county. At the high end -- before Westminster abolished its $56,000-a-year post several months after creating it -- is Hampstead, which pays its manager $36,000 a year.
Sykesville pays its manager slightly more than$30,000, while Taneytown's manager has an annual salary of $35,000.
Salaries for other small municipal managers in nearby counties range from $25,000 to $37,000.
Manchester Councilman John A. Riley isHampstead's manager. He has been a strong advocate of hiring a manager here for more than a year.
To make way for the manager's post, the entire office will have to be restructured, Warner said. For instance, the manager will become the town's zoning administrator, a postheld for the last several years by Miriam DePalmer. DePalmer will become the assistant zoning administrator, Warner said.
The clerk/treasurer post, held since the 1960s by Kathryn L. Riley, also will undergo some fine-tuning with the manager's hiring.
In closed sessionlast night, the council interviewed six candidates for Riley's post,which will pay $18,000 to $20,000 a year. Almost three dozen people applied for the job the past several weeks.
Riley is planning to retire from the job July 1, but will stay on board part time until September.
Deciding to hire a manager and a new clerk/treasurer are the first steps in formulating a budget for the year beginning July 1.Expected to top out close to $1 million, the town's combined operating, capital and water and sewer budgets could include an increase in the current 42-cent tax rate.
"I don't think the council can make a decision until they see what the revenue picture from the state andcounty will be," Warner said. "They have not ruled out any tax increase."
COMPARISON OF MANAGERS' PAY
Town... ... Annual pay... ...Town... ... Annual pay
Brunswick..... $25,000... ... Taneytown...... 35,000
Manchester.... *28,000... ... Hampstead...... 36,000
Walkersville... 28,198... ... Bel Air.... ... 36,847
Sykesville..... 30,380... ... Westminster ...**57,500*
** Position abolished in mid-1991