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Mercersburg job offer may be in limbo

January 13, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The Mercersburg Borough Council last week offered the borough manager's job to Michael Collins, chief athletic field groundskeeper for Mercersburg Academy, at an annual salary of $30,000. But they don't know if the offer will stick.

Councilwoman Michele Quattrociocchi said that Collins, 39, of West Seminary Street, possesses few of the requirements spelled out in the borough's advertisement for a new borough manager to replace James Leventry, who resigned in December.

The council, including Quattrociocchi, voted 6-1 to hire Collins.

Now Collins' job may be in jeopardy. Council President Tom Heefner said Thursday that Collins has not been "officially unhired." Instead the council, in a 6-1 vote Wednesday, moved to run its hiring policy past its attorney to see if the members followed borough policy in offering him the job.

Councilman Tom Suddeth cast the dissenting vote, saying $30,000 is too high a salary for a candidate who doesn't meet the borough's hiring requirements.

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Quattrociocchi told the council Wednesday that the advertisement seeking applicants called for a bachelor's degree in public administration or related field, plus a minimum of five years of experience in municipal government.

Collins said he has an associate's degree in environmental science from Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass. He spent most of his working years managing snow-making operations at ski resorts. He worked for more than seven years at the Whitetail Resort near Mercersburg before he took the job at Mercersburg Academy 2 1/2 years ago, he said.

He said he has budget experience from preparing budgets for multimillion-dollar snow-making operations. He said he will learn grant application writing and other managerial duties on the job.

The borough received six applications but interviewed only Collins, Heefner said. "We didn't think some of them were qualified. One that was had a minimum salary requirement of $35,000. We felt Mike was the best-qualified candidate," he said.

Collins said he approached Leventry and asked if he could be interviewed for the manager's job.

If the attorney's opinion supports the council's actions, Heefner said he is authorized to sign a contract with Collins. Collins then would start Jan. 24.

There also were questions about the scope of a background check. Background checks are spelled out in the hiring policy and will be a matter for the borough attorney to sort out, Heefner said.

"If the attorney's report is not OK, then I don't know what we'll do," Heefner said. He said the council should have the attorney's report early next week.

Collins said he resigned his Mercersburg Academy job effective Jan. 20 because he felt he had the borough post. "I don't know what I'll do now if they don't hire me," he said.

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