MANCHESTER -- The Town Council narrowed the field of town manager hopefuls to four after preliminary interviews last week.
For the first time in Manchester's 227-year history, a town manager is expected to come on board by the end of June.
Based on what is known of the four candidates, that manager will likely be a person familiar with the workings of county and municipal government, said David Warner, the town's projects administrator.
On Wednesday, the council interviewed seven of the 16 people who applied for the post. Out of the seven, four men -- three of them Carroll residents, two of them with experience closely related to the workings of county government and two of them from within the town government -- were chosen for further interviews and evaluation. The finalists range in age from about 30 to 50.
The town decided last year to hire a manager because the daily operations of Manchester were becoming more complex and too time-consuming for a part-time, $1,200-a-year mayor.
Since January 1991, Warner has been the town's manager by default. As the part-time, $25,000-a-year projects administrator, Warner has taken the responsibility of smoothing over contracts, streamlining procedures, acting as official spokesman and tracking the budget.
The manager's duties will resemble Warner's but will be more far-reaching, similar to the duties of a company president. He will carry out directives from the council, and he will have the authority to write town checks, make day-to-day decisions and represent the town at official functions.
Warner is expected to step down in July. He is not among the finalists for the manager's job, for which he did not apply.
The new manager will be paid a salary ranging from $28,000 to $30,000, plus benefits, Warner said. The benefits add another $10,000 to $12,000 a year to the cost of hiring a manager.
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 managers of small municipalities in nearby counties range from $25,000 to $37,000.
Manchester Councilman John A. Riley is Hampstead'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 post held for the past several years by Miriam DePalmer. DePalmer will become the assistant zoning administrator, Warner said.
The council passed a revision to the town charter recently, paving the way for the restructuring. And while members hope to have a manager hired by June 12, Warner said it is possible that timetable could be a little unrealistic.
Warner said the council also discussed the possibility of opening up the job search further.