ASHLEY — On a 4-0 vote Monday, Ashley Borough Council established the position of borough manager, but qualified the action by claiming it may never be filled.
Council President Joe Gorham said the position will be advertised and interviews with prospective candidates are expected to take place before council’s next meeting on Oct. 8. He said the intent of creating the position is to combine two former part-time jobs — borough secretary and treasurer.
Gorham said no salary has been set and would depend on the qualifications and background of the candidates. Health care benefits are part of the proposed contract for the position and could be for the individual or for a family plan, Gorham said.
Four residents expressed concern about the timeliness of the action — two are candidates for borough council in November. Frank Sorokach and Joe McGlynn, running as part of a team, questioned the need to create the position so close to the general election when the make-up of council could change for 2014.
“Why now?” Sorokach asked. “Maybe the next council will feel differently about this.”
Gorham said that by approving the position council can, if it chooses, hire a person to do the jobs formerly done by Christine Casey. Casey resigned from her full-time position as borough secretary and has been working part-time. Her salary when she left was $30,000 per year, and she is now paid $18 per hour in her part-time role.
Gorham explained that council has been going through a “codification process” and it was recommended that contracts be effected with all full-time employees. Gorham said council recently gave police Chief John Bell a five-year contract at $32,000 per year with an annual review clause.
Gorham said he hopes to fill the new position at a salary “similar to what Christine was making” when she left. McGlynn asked if there was a maximum amount council would pay to hire a manager, and Gorham said salary would be dependent upon the person’s skill sets.
McGlynn asked if the borough’s finances could handle the position and Gorham said the borough is “in the black” and expenditures are down and revenues are up.
“Nobody gets a contract in October,” McGlynn said. “That’s when health care contracts are renewed.”
Gorham said Casey’s position “morphed into something much more than originally intended.” He said that by advertising the new position, council hopes to attract top-qualified candidates.
“The intent is to fill her position,” Gorham said.