Up to date news on the happenings in Eddystone, PA. For such a small town, there's always BIG drama...inside and outside Borough Council Chambers.

Too much pay for the Borough Manager? Not so fast!

In a small town, it is hard to answer questions like this without thinking of the people involved in those decisions.  Taking the characters out of the equation, the math makes this a simple answer; yes, we are overpaying.  However, with the characters in the equation, I think the answer to this overpayment question is a bit more complex than it looks. 

Anyone who attended Council meetings over the years has witnessed firsthand how much the administration depended on the Borough Manager for help.  In other municipalities, the Borough Manager reports to Council; in those meetings, the Borough Manager rarely speaks, other than to share the reports submitted to Council.  In the case of Eddystone, our Council has deferred to the Borough Manager’s ideas and leadership; she answered residents’ questions, guided the leadership toward answers, and basically did the decision-making for the Borough.  The previous administration (which included four current Councilors-Begley, Pappas, Reeves, and Tatiscoire and the current Mayor) had to be bailed out on numerous occasions by the Borough Manager because, quite simply, they were uniformed about larger issues affecting the Borough.  The Council and Mayor were not able to demonstrate an adequate grasp on issues without deferring to her and getting her to answer questions posed by residents.   They demonstrated ignorance about laws surrounding financial reporting and accounting, an ignorance of basic legal oversight and responsibilities of local versus state agencies, and a genuine stupidity in how to manage basic public relations. 

The Borough Manager could argue that she was doing the job of Borough Manager, Council, and Mayor.  Maybe she deserved the Council and Mayor’s money and they were the ones being overpaid?  Even though the Council and Mayor only receive a small stipend for their services, if they were not doing anything other than sitting in a chair for a few hours twice a month, how much money is that really worth?  Other than having a stiff back after sitting for a prolonged period of time, “chair sitting” is not an overly taxing activity.   It’s also not hard to show up to events and shake hands with people.  Anyone can take the credit for the hard work of other people.  Anyone can smile for the camera and act like they understand how much behind the scenes labor goes into running any event or organization.  And, there really is nothing difficult about wielding the power of one’s elected position to drive an agenda.  Anyone can say, “Francie will look into that for us.” 

During those years, the Borough Manager did not call the Council and Mayor out for being ineffectual.  Rather, she just afforded herself a few extra liberties.  Her salary was nice and her daily schedule became more flexible in exchange for her covering for the Council’s ineptness.  Looking at the body of work the last administration did, I have to say that the Borough Manager’s salary wasn’t the biggest issue on the table.

So, maybe the argument should be that the previous administration (including Begley, Pappas, Reeves, Tatiscoire, and Orr) was overpaid because they did next to nothing with regard to positioning the Borough for future growth.  

Putting the past aside for a moment, let’s look at where we are today.  The ‘on the clock work’ done by some of the Council appears to be increasing.  I stress the words ‘some' and 'appears’ because it is far to early to draw conclusions on the work of this Council.

Mr. Pappas is more apt at handling the responsibilities of President than his predecessor.  Mr. Orio was a nice man with many years of service to the Borough, but clearly father time was getting the best of his ability to lead the Council.  Mr. Paterson is working on his ideas, evidenced by the successful Dog Chipping Clinic that provided free and convenient services to our residents.  Ms. Thompson is asking questions about our Borough’s budget, calling around to other municipalities and researching issues she is charged with leading.

If the current Council and Mayor’s office will be doing more of the leading in the Borough, the argument of overpayment to the Borough Manager would seem to be a valid one.  At the same time, if nothing is going to change other than the Borough Manager’s salary, then this conversation would appear to be just another small town personal vendetta between a few people in power and those opposed to them.

Lest we forget how little love loss there has been between the Mayor and his cronies and the Borough Manager.  It is hard to ignore, because of the small town we live in, Ms. Thompson’s relationship with the Chief of Police, and the Chief of Police’s friendship with the Mayor. Anyone with their eyes open has seen how this Mayor uses his position to advance his personal agenda for cronyism (If you don't believe me, find someone in the Borough who has disagreed with the man at some time or another; they can explain to you how inflexible and small-minded he can be).  It won't be hard to find someone to ask.

If the ‘love for Eddystone’ each person preaches whenever they are in public is so true, then I am sure there will be a middle ground on this issue. 

Maybe the Borough Manager’s total compensation package will stay the same, but she will be available to residents every day during regular business hours.  Maybe her compensation will be cut but she will work less than 40 hours a week because the Council and Mayor will be doing more of the workload.   Maybe clear responsibilities and expectations will be developed so that both the Borough Manager and the community know what is expected of the position.  Maybe the compensation will stay the same but she will maintain a ‘living website’ (there really is no excuse for the Borough’s website to look like it does if we are paying a full-time employee-compare Ridley Park:  http://www.ridleyparkborough.org/news/index/layoutfile/home

So, are we overpaying the Borough Manager?  At a quick glance, we might say yes.  On the other hand, maybe it is not the Borough Manager we are overpaying; maybe we need to expect better results from our elected officials.

The topic will be up for debate in the next week.  If you have an opinion, you may want to plan on being at the Workshop meeting on March 5th at 7 PM, as it will probably be the only time you can express your opinion to Council.