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Town staff duties reorganized

(3/6) Due to the imminent retirement of the Emmitsburg town clerk/accountant, the board of commissioners voted at their March 5 meeting to approve staff recommended changes to administration structure.

Town clerk and accountant Donna DesPres was expected to retire March 1, but has stayed on temporarily as the chief administrators search for a suitable replacement.

As of the March 5 meeting, a number of duties will be taken away from the position of town clerk and transferred the administrative assistant, and a newly created position of accountant.

DesPres was originally hired in 1994 as the town accountant. "Town clerk duties were subsequently added on," she stated.

"Way back in the day (1994) there was only two or three people in the office," she said. The position of accountant to town clerk/accountant "just evolved."

Changes approved by the board of commissioners at their March 5 meeting included dissolving the title of town clerk, and transferring some of the duties, including: drafting grant and loan application; managing election responsibilities; tracking ordinances; ensuring legal notice timeframes have been met for proposed ordinance changes; and certifying approved ordinance changes, to the current town administrative assistant.

The board of commissioners approved the re-creation of the title of treasurer, who would manage grants and loans once their sources had approved them, oversee utility billing, managing town expenditures, and other accounting functions.

The changes will necessitate the hiring of an accountant, and the commissioners also approved a staff proposal to hire applicant Cole Tabler, a senior accounting manager for a non-profit. Tabler had not officially accepted the offer as of the writing of this news story.

The new accountant’s starting salary will be $50,018. Tabler was selected from an array of 21 applications that had been received, according to town Administrative Assistant Cathy Willets.

DesPres said the interview process had been slowed due to the number of town office closures due to snow events, thus further delaying her retirement.

As far as municipalities reorganizing town staff structures as local governments grow, the current town clerk/treasurer stated that what Emmitsburg is doing "just happened in Taneytown. They had a clerk/treasurer and split up their duties" as well.

DesPres said she hopes to be able to actually retire in two or three weeks.

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