Manchester council faces full agenda Some want power to pick manager


Manchester residents may need a score card to keep up with their town council tomorrow night.

* Councilwoman Kathryn L. Riley has placed on the council's draft agenda for tomorrow night a proposed charter amendment that would allow the council to hire and fire the town manager without the mayor's approval.

* Councilman John A. Riley, who was supposed to devise new water and sewer rates in time for the meeting, said in a memo to the mayor and council dated Sept. 7 that he cannot meet the deadline because he still doesn't have crucial budget information. He also said he believes the town has not collected some water charges and not paid some loan payments in a timely fashion.

Mr. Riley was not available Friday for comment.

* Councilman Robert Kolodziejski, who announced his resignation last week, said Friday he will remain on the council until Oct. 14 at the request of Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr.

The proposed charter amendment on the hiring and firing of the town manager arises from a conflict within the council. And depending on who is describing it, the conflict is about long-range strategic planning or disagreement over Town Manager Terry Short's performance.

Mr. Kolodziejski's continued service on the council might not affect a potential vote on the proposal if the panel's factions split along expected lines.

Mr. Kolodziejski said the council seems to divide often into two groups, one comprised of Mr. Riley, Mrs. Riley, and Councilman Douglas Myers, and the other including himself, Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett and Mr. Warehime.

But the mayor cannot vote on the proposal. So the Rileys and Mr. Myers could use their votes to enact the amendment if the town attorney approves its language.

"Everybody thinks it's just me and John and Kathryn on one side and everybody else on the other side," said Mr. Myers Friday. "I'm not sure that that's true."

He said the council has not fallen into that alignment in every vote.

Mr. Kolodziejski said that Mrs. Riley's proposed charter amendment "pushed me over the edge" to remain on the council through three more meetings.

The amendment would empower the council to hire or fire the town manager. Currently, the town manager is hired or fired either by the mayor with the agreement of a majority of the council or by a vote of four of the five council members.

Under state law, if the charter amendment is enacted tomorrow night, it would become effective in 50 days unless 20 percent of the town voters petition within 40 days for a referendum on it.

"It looks like it's something against Terry [Short], and also at me," said Mr. Warehime Friday.

Mr. Short said he does not view the proposed charter amendment as a threat "at this time."

"I see it as a direct attack on the executive branch, on the mayor's office," he said. "I'm not easily threatened."

Mayor Warehime said he and Mr. Short have been trying to get the council to do more long-range strategic planning, which may have alienated some council members.

"We cannot operate on a pay-as-you-go thing," the mayor said, "and I believe three of our council members want to operate on a pay-as-you-go."

He said Mr. Riley, Mrs. Riley and Mr. Myers seem opposed to the planning process.

Mr. Myers said he believes in strategic planning, and said he does not think the town is operating on a pay-as-you-go basis.

He said he "has problems with" the way Mr. Short is going about daily business.

"I think he's trying to take on too much of the power," said Mr. Myers, who was elected to the council in May. "That's why I ran for council. I just want to watch him really close, because he scares me."

Mrs. Riley said Friday she was awaiting comment from the town attorney, Charles O. Fisher Jr., on the proposed charter amendment. She declined to comment further on it or on other council business on the draft agenda.

Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett was hospitalized after surgery Friday and could not be reached for comment.

On the budget issue, Mr. Riley said in his memo to the mayor and council that it is unclear how much money is left over from last year's water and sewer budgets. He also said he believes there are "substantial" water charges the town has not collected, and that, to his knowledge, the town has not made any payments on a loan from the First National Bank in fiscal 1993-1994.

Mr. Short said Friday that the payments to the First National Bank have been made. The payments were delayed because "the bank forgot to bill us," he said.

Mr. Short said he was investigating the alleged non-collection of water charges.

Tomorrow's draft agenda also includes a discussion of water and sewer rates, water and sewer connection fees, the town's solid waste contract and the realignment of Southwestern Avenue on the town's master plan.

And, a workshop on strategic planning is scheduled, along with an executive session.

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