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Borough manager resigns

September 11, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Judith Chambers, borough manager for the last eight years, resigned Tuesday night because of a proposed ordinance that would reduce her responsibilities and salary.

Chambers said she saw "the handwriting on the wall" when she was told to include three items on the upcoming council meeting agenda calling for discussions of a new ordinance changing the form of government, her employment agreement and the elimination of Mayor Thomas Ralston's $500 annual salary.

Chambers said she has accepted a job with more money at the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority. Her resignation takes effect Oct. 10, she said. Her employment agreement was to expire Dec. 31.

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Mercersburg Councilwoman Jeanne Rader said the council is searching for a more cost-effective form of government.

"Twenty or 25 years ago the borough manager was the way to go. Local governments are now eyeing the administrators," she said.

According to Chambers, the council is recommending a salary of $30,000 for its new administrator, $6,000 less than she earns as manager. There will be fewer benefits too, she said.

Rader said administrators have fewer duties than managers.

Borough managers supervise all government functions, including office and administration, as well as street and building maintenance. An administrator only supervises office functions. Another official would run the street and other outside maintenance and the mayor would continue to supervise the police department, Rader said.

In Pennsylvania, mayors can supervise police departments or appoint someone. Ralston said he will continue to supervise the department, although he said he may not attend any more council meetings after January. He also told the council that Larry E. Thomas Sr., borough police chief, probably won't attend them either.

Ralston has been on the council for 10 years. He thinks things should be left as they are. Changing the form of government "will be a disservice to the community. It will be a return to the way the borough operated 20 years ago."

As mayor, Ralston only votes to break a tie. The vote on the ordinance was 6-0.

Rader said Ralston's salary is being eliminated because no other elected official in the borough gets paid.

The borough has a population of 1,800 and an annual budget of around $300,000, Rader said.

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