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Town considers increasing
 vacation time for new hires

Ingrid Mezo

During a Thurmont town meeting Tuesday, town officials discussed adding an additional week of paid vacation for new town staff, or allowing staff to accrue vacation hours as they work.

Town staff members now receive only one business week of paid vacation during their first year, which they become eligible for after working for the town for six months. The town has had recruitment and retention problems with staff members, especially on the town’s police department.

‘‘I thought [one week of paid vacation] was pretty low if we’re trying to attract people,” Mayor Martins Burns said. ‘‘We typically hire experienced people. ...I mean, if I saw that, it would scare me away from a job.”

In addition to receiving a week of paid vacation, town staff receives 10 days of sick leave each year.

Before the town’s election in November, Burns and Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Ron Terpko said that several town employees had retired or were planning to retire soon, and that they wanted to ensure they would be replaced with qualified people.

Town officials said they would discuss offering new hires additional vacation time as they are preparing the budget for fiscal 2007, and would then vote on the measure. The town’s budget is generally approved during the first or second week in June, Town Clerk Rick May said.

Town may raise Colorfest fees

Commissioner Ron Terpko asked town officials to consider increasing the permit fees for Colorfest next year.

Colorfest is an annual juried arts and crafts show conducted in the town each October, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. Hundreds of vendors participate, and the main town streets are closed down to become walkways for visitors. Food stands line the roads, and many residents hold yard sales throughout the town.

The town pays for security services, public toilets and town labor and charges permitting fees to make up for its costs. This year costs were much higher due to an increase in fuel, labor and other costs.

Attendance at the town’s annual event was much lower this year due to a rainy weekend, and the town ended up with an $8,200 deficit, rather than turning a profit as it has in the past.

After analyzing the figures during a meeting with the town’s Colorfest Committee this week, Terpko said the town would have lost money in the last Colorfest even if it had not rained. The amount the town is charging for permits does not match the amount the town expends in services, Terpko said.

Town officials said they would discuss raising the permit fees after investigating how much the town expects to expend in services in the upcoming Colorfest.

The current costs for permit fees are $27 for craft permits, parking permits and nonprofit vendors, $15 for yard sale permits and $500 for for-profit food vendors for the first 20 feet of service area frontage, and then $125 for each additional 5 feet, Town Clerk Rick May said.

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