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Commission president concerned
 about top-heavy staffing

(1/17) With the addition of a town planner to the ranks of Emmitsburg town employees, one town commissioner is concerned about the number of employees on the town payroll.

As the commissioners discussed hiring a new town planner at a recent meeting, Commission President Chris Staiger raised the question as to whether the town was overstaffed. No one could give him an answer at that time.

However, an examination of the staffing at Frederick County municipalities shows that Emmitsburg has the third highest in the county. Emmitsburg has .72 town employees per 100 residents. Brunswick and Frederick City both have .96. The county average is 0.79.

“When you look at other municipalities, you have to also ask whether they provide sewer, water and other park lands,” Hoover said. “Walkersville doesn’t even provide parks.”

Though Walkersville has more than twice as many residents as Emmitsburg, it has two fewer employees.

Myersville and Middletown, which are the two municipalities in the county closest in size to Emmitsburg, have ratios of .33 and .42, respectively. In this case, municipalities that would be expected to offer similar services are doing it in a more-efficient manner.

Staiger also acknowledges that differences in municipal services will affect staffing.
“You’re going to need people to keep the lights on and keep water running. My thoughts are we’re not too high with those employees,” Staiger.

His concern is with how much administration the town has.

“People were told they needed development to maintain infrastructure, but over the years, what I’ve seen is that extra revenue has been to benefit the staff packages,” Staiger said.

He said direct employee costs have risen over the years. He points, in particular, to having the town included in the state pension plan, which required back payments. Hoover also stated this as a possible increase for employee costs, but looking at budgeted numbers for fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the pension payments actually fell from $31,200 to $15,378.

On the other hand, direct employee costs in the general fund rose from about 30.8 percent of the $1.5-million budget to 32.1 percent of the $1.7-million budget, an increase of nearly $67,000.

“Now that they have more money sloshing around, they’re allocating it to employees and their packages,” Staiger said.

Hoover said he is preparing a survey to identify Maryland municipalities that are most-similar to Emmitsburg and compare their staffing to Emmitsburg’s.

“I’m not concerned about our numbers, though,” Hoover added. “We’re well within reason for the services provided.”

As for the growing portion of the budget dedicated to employee costs, Hoover said the cost manpower, insurance and pensions continue to rise everywhere so he isn’t surprised at the increase.

Frederick County Municipal Staffing Ratios

TOWN               PAID               POPULATION          EMPLOYEES/
                          EMPLOYEES                                   100 RESIDENTS

Burkittsville      1 pt              186                     0.27
Walkersville      15                5590                    0.27
Mt. Airy           21 ft/6 pt      8703                    0.28
Woodsboro      3                  911                      0.33
Myersville        5                  1508                    0.33
Middletown      12                2856                    0.42
Thurmont        38                6027                    0.63
Rosemont        2                  308                     0.65
New Market     3                  463                      0.65
Emmitsburg      17                2365                    0.72
Average          734               93029                  0.79
Brunswick        50                 5230                  0.96
Frederick         488 ft/153 pt  58882                 0.96

pt=part-time, ft=full-time
Source: Maryland Municipal League, U.S. Census

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