Hampstead proposes pay raises for officials Mayor, council members would receive fivefold salary increase in 1999

July 16, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Hampstead's future mayor and council members would receive almost a fivefold pay increase if a proposed ordinance is adopted next month.

But that's not saying much: The mayor's salary is $1,000 a year and would increase to $4,800; council members' pay would rise from $500 to $2,400.

"So far, public comment has been positive," said Town Manager Neil Ridgely, who introduced the proposed pay raise.

"The thinking was, we might get more candidates, and if we pay them more, maybe they'll spend more time."

The town's current salaries hug the lower end of the scale.

"This is one of the most difficult things for any elected body to handle," Ridgely said. "If it is approved, they will not receive the pay raise. It will not take effect until the next group, in May '99."

A public hearing on the pay raises is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 11, the next council meeting, and an ordinance could be adopted that night.

In his regular staff report at the council meeting Tuesday night, Ridgely said H. M. Mall Associates has applied to Carroll County to rezone property behind North Carroll Plaza Shopping Center, possibly for a Wal-Mart.

The town manager repeated Hampstead's opposition to rezoning that property north of the town boundary in a letter last week to Philip J. Rovang, the county's director of planning and development.

Ridgely wrote that the property should be considered part of the county's master plan for the town and its environs, and that current residential and agricultural zoning is not the result of a change or mistake, as law requires for rezoning.

He also said that a change to allow such a commercial use might jeopardize a hoped-for Manchester bypass, because the State Highway Administration and the governor's Smart Growth initiative frown on commercial strips along bypasses, such as exists along Route 140 in Westminster.

Getting traffic out of downtown is key to the revitalization of main streets in Hampstead and Manchester, but a huge discount store could suffocate small businesses, Ridgely said.

"Development of a 'big-box' retail center between the towns would certainly negate those efforts and have an overall deleterious effect on the small town environments which both municip- alities are committed to preserving," Ridgely wrote.

By a close vote, he said, the council decided to investigate having the town of Hampstead annex such properties to protect them.

"This would add one more level of security for the state in funding for the bypass," Ridgely explained, "if this is a concern to them not to generate sprawl along the bypass."

In other business, the council:

Voted to annex the Carroll County Library and Senior Center, which would allow the extension of water and sewer service to those properties adjoining town.

Agreed to temporarily modify quarterly water rates, with an eye to a permanent ordinance that would equalize charges for two high-volume users -- a laundromat and carwash -- that pay lower rates, Ridgely said.

Discussed the town's role in the 2000 census, and possible celebrations for the turn of the millennium.

Proposed an amendment to allow the town manager to handle minor variances such as setbacks and location of swimming pools in a back yard, which require a full meeting by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Such requests will require proper notices and can be appealed to the board if denied.

Voted to offer half-price memberships to the Hampstead pool as an incentive for service by members of town boards and commissions. Council members did not approve this perk for themselves.

Pub Date: 7/16/98

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