Manchester town manager revises plan to set employee salary scales Strategy: David Warner suggests restructuring the town's staff with internal promotions and reorganizing the chain of command to allow staff expansion with growth.

February 07, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Town leaders in Manchester are facing some major strategy decisions before drafting a budget for fiscal 1997.

Mayor Elmer Lippy and the Town Council will consider re- organizing the town staff and implementing a 10-step salary scale, as recommended by David Warner, Manchester's temporary part-time town manager.

Mr. Warner gave his ideas to town leaders several months ago but met with what he termed an "unenthusiastic" response.

The revised plan, presented at a recent Town Council meeting, summarized his ideas for streamlining management of the town.

Because the town's finances are entwined with Mr. Warner's proposed changes, town leaders must decide whether they will adopt part or all of Mr. Warner's plan before they complete a 1997 budget.

The town's budget must be introduced April 9. A public hearing and adoption of the budget is set for May 14.

Mr. Warner, 56, took over as part-time town manager in December 1994, after Terry Short resigned. Mr. Warner had been the town's project administrator since 1992 and a councilman for three years.

As project administrator, he said, much of his time was spent revising the town code, allowing Manchester to move toward a town manager system.

In his new strategic plan, Mr. Warner has suggested restructuring the staff with internal promotions and reorganizing the chain of command so that the staff can expand with future growth.

Manchester's population, 3,100, could increase by 1,500 within seven to 10 years, he said, and double within 15 years, particularly if annexations being considered are completed.

Mr. Warner also recommended new job titles for town employees that more closely reflect their work and responsibilities. In effect, that would reward employee performance, he said.

The plan does not mention employees by name, except for one who will be retiring. The law requires that any consideration of promotions be discussed and decided in private.

"If I decide to stay on as temporary town manager, I would want an increase in compensation," said Mr. Warner, who earns about for 25 hours of work a week.

He said he has not sought compensation for overtime and has asked town leaders to consider paying him a maximum annual salary of $29,000 with paid holidays, but no other fringe benefits.

The principal staff change in Mr. Warner's plan would be the installation of two directors who would answer to the town manager.

The clerk-treasurer would become the director of finance with increased responsibility in budget development, purchasing and investment. The director of parks and public works would oversee all "outside" activities.

Either or both could effectively run the town in the absence of the town manager, Mr. Warner said.

A second major change would involve moving two superintendents to "supervisory" status.

Mr. Warner also would establish a separate parks department, headed by a parks foreman.

Along with these and other suggested changes, Mr. Warner presented the Town Council with a salary scale for all town employees.

Having a salary scale would improve the budget process by taking the guesswork out of predicting salaries, he said.

Each position -- from town manager to junior spray operator -- would be based on reaching top scale in the 10th year of employment.

At the top of the proposed scale would be the director of parks and public works, who would earn $36,000 in the first year and $40,500 in the 10th year.

The salary range for a full-time town manager would start at $30,000 and peak at $34,500.

The third-highest-paid town employee, the chief of police, would earn $29,500 to $34,000 and the director of finance would earn $29,000 to $33,500.

At the low end, a member of the town's roads crew would earn $14,000 in the first year and $18,500 in the 10th year of employment.

The immediate financial impact on the town should not be too severe, Mr. Warner said.

"The scale closely reflects our present salary picture," he said.

The proposed pay scale also anticipates additional positions such as receptionist, police sergeant and project administrator if growth make it necessary to fill those positions.

In all cases, the mayor and the Town Council would have the authority to hire a new employee at any level of the 10-tier scale. For example, a veteran police sergeant from another agency could be hired at top scale.

"That makes it possible to entice experienced personnel to come here if the mayor and Town Council so desire," Mr. Warner said.

Mr. Lippy said the council generally favored Mr. Warner's proposal but that there were concerns with implementing a salary scale.

"The plan is good, but you don't want to get locked into something without knowing what future economic conditions will be like," he said.

After his most recent presentation, Mr. Warner was asked to report back to town leaders with a clearer picture of what the financial impact of the proposed salary scale will be for the town, Mr. Lippy said.

The next Town Council meeting is Feb. 13.

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