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CAO position a bargain for Thurmont

(10/18) As Thurmont Commissioner Bill Blakeslee prepares to become the chief administrative officer for the town, it appears that the town may have gotten a bargain.

When Blakeslee’s $70,000 salary is compared against the salaries of his fellow administrators of towns of a similar size in Frederick County, the numbers appear to show Thurmont is not paying as much for the services of administrator as either Walkersville or Brunswick.

“The salary is in line with what we pay branch head positions,” said Mayor Martin Burns.

Blakeslee’s actual salary falls between those of the Brunswick administrator and Walkersville town manager. However, when the salaries are compared to the town’s population and the town’s operating budget, Blakeslee’s salary becomes a lower cost to residents than in the other towns.

“This is a position we needed,” Burns said. “We had a multi-million dollar corporation with no one in charge. Rick [May] was not in charge of every department in the Town of Thurmont.”

As the town clerk, May had no authority over the police department, public works, water department, sewer department and electric department.

“A lot of things weren’t getting done, through no fault of Rick’s, because there was no one to coordinate everything,” Burns said.

With an administrator, Burns expects efficiency to improve as processes are smoothed out.

“Rick’s been doing the whole job for a long time, but it’s an impossible job for one person to do,” Blakeslee said.

Each Thurmont resident will pay $11.61 of Blakeslee’s salary while Brunswick residents pay $12.89 and Walkersville residents pay $14.12.

As a percentage of the town general fund, Blakeslee’s salary represents 1.51 percent (.55 percent if the electric budget is included). Brunswick’s administrator’s salary is 1.63 percent and Walkersville’s town manager salary is 1.87 percent.

One reason for the difference in salaries between the three positions is in part the experience of the people in the positions.

“Bill has management experience,” Burns said. “He has handled budgets and managed hundreds of people.”

However, working in the Thurmont town office will be Blakeslee’s first position in municipal management.

Burns said one of the advantages that Blakeslee will bring to Thurmont is his contacts and proven success getting grants for the town.

“Once you start getting these types of grants, it’s easier to get the next one,” Blakeslee said.

Blakeslee was appointed to the new position created in the revision of the town charter on Aug. 14. He assumes the role of chief administrative officer on Nov. 1.

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