Westminster picks Wolf to be city administrator

August 09, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

The former deputy housing secretary under Gov. Parris N. Glendening has been tapped for the newly revived position of city administrator in Westminster, Mayor Thomas K. Ferguson announced yesterday.

After a five-month search, the Westminster City Council offered the job to Margaret "Marge" Wolf, 60, who also served as Hyattsville's city administrator for nine years and now manages the borough of Kennett Square, Pa.

"Marge brings to this job in Westminster, Md., experience in spades," Ferguson said. "She really does understand municipal government and the issues communities face across the state."

Wolf's hiring comes during a chaotic period for Westminster government. In late May, the city's finance director, Joseph D. Urban, abruptly took early retirement after the passage of a budget with tax and water rate increases. Dave Albright, the city's assistant treasurer, has temporarily assumed that position. A decision on a permanent finance director will be made when Wolf begins work Oct. 2, Ferguson said.

Also, Thomas B. Beyard, the man charged with running the daily business of Westminster for nearly 20 years, departed in mid-June for an 18-month National Guard deployment to the Mideast. During the absence of Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works since 1987, Wolf will assume some of those responsibilities.

As a chief operating officer, she will manage Westminster's municipal departments, reporting directly to the mayor. Wolf's salary will start at $108,500, Ferguson said.

Westminster has had a city manager twice before. Most recently, the position was created in 1991 but fell victim to political bickering between the mayor and council.

But with Westminster's population at almost 18,000 residents and a budget of $27.1 million, someone needs to manage the city's day-to-day affairs, council members said.

"It will bridge the gap between the election cycles," Council President Roy L. Chiavacci said.

Ferguson said Wolf is qualified to handle the city's most pressing issues: managing growth, upgrading water and wastewater treatment capabilities and promoting economic development and affordable housing.

As deputy secretary in the Department of Housing and Community Development from 1998 to 2003, Wolf helped implement the Community Legacy program, which provides money for revitalization projects to municipalities and nonprofit community development corporations. Westminster used such grants to renovate a downtown movie theater into the Carroll Arts Center and received $100,000 for the Union Street Community Center, which a nonprofit organization is building in one of the city's poorer neighborhoods.

Though it is not a job requirement, Wolf, now a Baltimore resident, said she will move to Westminster.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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