Living in Hanover

Living in Hanover

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Re-Arranging the Deck Chairs

December 28, 2011 | 1 Comment

Hanover Borough will vote on its budget tonight. As I pointed out previously, I appreciated the whole no tax increase thing. I know we’re getting socked with water and sewer and (for some) garbage increases, but I generally understand fee increases like these.

What I don’t understand is the timing of some other decisions tied to the budget and the seeming close-minded approach to staffing which continues to pervade the borough.

I generally hate when people criticize Hanover for its insular nature, but the news in the paper today (spurred by my friend and council Vice President Heidi Hormel) supersedes that annoyance of mine because the looming decisions make no sense.

In short, wastewater treatment plant superintendent Ed Reed (no, not the Ravens’ safety) will move to the assistant borough manager position (with a nice raise). That spot has been empty since Barb Krebs took over as borough manager in February, another instance where someone from inside moved up. According to Heidi, the soon-to-be-open slot at the sewer plant will be – you guessed it – filled internally.

And all this happened with almost no public discussion and without taking this re-organization (there are other people moving around/assuming new responsibilities/getting raises) to council as a whole separate from the budget discussion.

Hanover at its finest, which has sparked another one of my pet peeves – assuming that making your voice heard will do nothing.

I hope people go and complain about this – I’m hoping to make it, but am not 100 percent certain I can – but deep down I know nothing will change, The budget has to pass before the end of the year so there have most likely been private discussions which guarantee the votes even if there is some late uproar about moving the chess pieces in a way which helps the borough manager feel better whether or not it’s the best decision for the town.

I just get frustrated that the town could take this great opportunity to look for an assistant borough manager who might bring a new set of ideas to the table, particularly in the area of downtown affairs and economic development support. Maybe someone from the outside will take a look at the current garbage collection scheme and say, “Hey, maybe we could do better.” Perhaps someone unearthed from an outside search would implement changes to make sure the tax rate stays low and eliminate the necessity for increased fees.

I don’t buy it when Barb Krebs says “council would have lost if we would have hired from the outside.” The only person who stands to lose with a new voice is Krebs herself. Shuffling responsibilities with attached pay raises makes sure she doesn’t have to worry about doing anything differently.

Competence in a municipal job is not solely linked to a historical knowledge of the town which employs a person. Hanover has plenty of experienced people on staff. What’s the harm in bringing someone who can learn that knowledge and bring their own sensibilities and experience to the table?

Actually discussing that in an open forum several months ago when the idea of tax rates and usage fees came before council would have been a wonderful idea. Instead, we get a plan signed, sealed and delivered at the last minute without the possibility for a more comprehensive discussion about the staffing needs within the borough administration.

That’s the real shame, not the fact that some people are getting raises. But I should have known stuff like this was coming back in February.

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