Manchester Town Council members, fasten your seat belts.
If Wednesday's council meeting is any indication, it could be a bumpy year.
"Wasn't that a humdinger?" said Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett yesterday.
At Wednesday's meeting, the first since the May 18 council election, a new voting bloc seemed to emerge. New council members Kathryn L. Riley and Douglas E. Myers joined Councilman John A. Riley -- Mrs. Riley's brother-in-law -- to form majorities on two issues.
Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett opposed both moves. Councilman Robert Kolodziejski was absent.
One vote abolished the town's ad-hoc committee on water and sewers.
Last year, the council created the committee and charged it with devising a new rate structure for water and sewer service, including a capital spending plan. Several residents served on the committee.
It had not yet issued its final report, although some of its rate structure recommendations were included in the budget for fiscal 1994.
Mrs. Riley said yesterday that she believed the committee had completed its task, but that she would have liked to have thanked each person who donated time to its work.
"I think it was a slap in the face to me," Christopher D'Amario said yesterday. He served on the committee and had run unsuccessfully for a council seat.
He said nobody told him before Wednesday's meeting about plans to abolish the committee.
"I think after a year's work, they owed us that," he said.
He said the ad-hoc committee had been a useful tool for educating the public about town affairs. He said by dissolving the committee, the council had erected "a steel curtain" across lines of communication with town residents.
"They're going to kill the interest of other people if that's the way we're going to go," said Mrs. Collett.
In another 3-1 vote Wednesday, the council directed the town manager to have several recently passed town ordinances codified and printed for insertion into Manchester code books.
Town Manager Terry L. Short said the council had planned to save money by waiting to do this until planned code revisions are completed.
Tension showed in some council deliberations Wednesday.
"I don't know if the council knows it," Mrs. Riley said, "but the employees are under a gag order not to talk to the council."
"I've never had any trouble talking to any of them," said Mrs. Collett.
"The employees have never been told that they couldn't do that," said Mr. Short. He said he had asked employees to come to him first with any problems.
Mr. Myers said he had also heard rumors of a gag order.
"So if you've heard rumors, you know that it's a true thing," Mrs. Riley said.
"Maybe it's a misunderstanding," said Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr.
Mrs. Riley put forward a motion that the alleged gag order be rescinded, in writing, but the motion died for lack of a second.
"I better not hear of this gag order again," said Mr. Riley, "because I definitely will bring this motion back up."
Also on Wednesday, Mr. Warehime announced a reorganization of council committees.
He assigned Mr. Kolodziejski, who was formerly responsible for roads, to oversee a new committee on manpower and economic development.
Mr. Warehime asked Mr. Riley, who oversees water and sewers, to also assume responsibility for Manchester's roads and lights.
Mrs. Collett will continue to handle parks and recreation, and will take on oversight of planning and zoning.
Mr. Myers was asked to take on a new committee on strategic planning and adequate-facilities requirements.
Mr. Warehime asked Mrs. Riley to be in charge of intergovernmental relations. She will act as a liaison between Manchester and other towns, the county, the state and the Maryland Municipal League. She will also work on recycling and trash collection.
Mrs. Riley asked not to be given the liaison responsibilities. She said she does not drive and could not travel to Annapolis for meetings.
Mr. Warehime said, "Just call them up once a month. Let them know we're here."