No one expected this kind of turnover.
For 15 years, Taneytown and its 4,500 residents had the same city manager. He was a former mayor who knew the ins and outs of just about every corner of the northwest Carroll municipality.
But three years ago, Neal W. Powell retired. Joseph A. Mangini was hired to replace him. Mr. Mangini was fired 18 months later. A year ago, John A. Kendall was named to replace Mr. Mangini.
Mr. Kendall resigned last week to take a higher-paying job in Frederick.
So, for the third time in three years, Taneytown is without a city manager to keep tabs on the $2 million annual budget and supervise 16 employees.
"If we can continue to do the work, we'll be fine," said Linda Hess, the city's clerk/treasurer for 19 years who was an unsuccessful applicant for the city manager slot filled by Mr. Kendall.
Ms. Hess declined to say yesterday whether she would apply again for the post.
In the interim, between Mr. Mangini and Mr. Kendall, Ms. Hess was the acting city manager. According to Mayor Henry I. Reindollar, she "could run the whole town."
With great fanfare, the City Council and Mr. Reindollar hired Joseph A. Mangini in January 1992 from a field of more than 30 applicants.
By August 1994, the manager had been fired for undisclosed reasons.
Mr. Mangini later said that the council fired him after falsely accusing him of impropriety in his dealings with a local developer.
He said the accusation was made to get rid of an effective public servant.
Eight months later, Mr. Kendall was hired. The 57-year-old career administrator resigned last week to take a job as the top assistant to Frederick Mayor Jim Grimes.
"I guess it's up to me to run the town now," said Mr. Reindollar, who Monday was appointed interim manager. As such, the four-term mayor, who is not seeking re-election in May, will receive a pro-rated share of Mr. Kendall's $37,000-a-year salary.
The city began advertising the latest job opening in municipal league publications in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey. Applications are being accepted by City Attorney Thomas A. Stansfield until April 28.
The decision on who to hire will be left to the new mayor and council in May.
Taneytown's new city manager will be asked to continue work on the $4 million upgrade of the city's sewage treatment plant, a comprehensive plan for dealing with growth, and economic development initiatives designed to jump-start a stagnant industrial tax base.
For years, municipal leaders around Carroll looked at Taneytown as a beacon of stability. It had the same mayor, the same city manager and many of the same council members occupied their seats for five, 10, 15 years or more.
But then Mr. Mangini, who is not a Taneytown native, came on the scene, and he and the council didn't hit it off.
"There's a saying that goes something like, 'To get rid of the good people in government, you either shoot them in the head or fire them,' " Mr. Mangini said the night he was fired. "I guess this time I drew the firing."
In Mr. Kendall's case, he and the council had a good relationship, so his resignation took city officials by surprise.
Henry C. Heine, a councilman who is running for mayor, was not expecting Mr. Kendall to leave.
"He was really working well here, I'm sorry to see him go," Mr. Heine said.
Mr. Kendall said he left to face new challenges as a key player in the administration of a city with 345 employees and an annual budget more than 16 times larger than Taneytown's.