Berlin Town Council Approves New Position In Split Vote

Berlin Town Council Approves New Position In Split Vote
The mayor and members of the Berlin Town Council are pictured at Monday's council meeting. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – In a split vote, municipal officials approved a job description for a new special projects coordinator at town hall.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted 3-2 to approve a new position in town hall. Those who voted against the job description wanted it to do more to support the town’s planning department, as that was why officials had agreed to include funding for it in the budget.

“The special projects administrator title was packaged to us primarily to assist, one of their tasks—or the majority of their tasks—was planning,” Councilman Jack Orris said.

The council on Monday was presented with a job description for a special projects coordinator.

“The Special Projects Administrator reports directly to the Town Administrator and serves to perform all aspects of work to meet the objectives of the Town,” the job description reads. “The Special Projects Administrator is responsible for working on critical/special projects assigned by the Town Administrator and assists in the daily operations of the Administration Department. Work involves the application of professional knowledge and personal judgment to a variety of managerial and administrative needs. The Special Projects Administrator will work with elected officials, the Town Administrator, Department Heads, employees, citizens, and third-party vendors.”

Orris was quick to express his concerns, as he said the position had been discussed during budget talks as a role that could support the two-person planning department currently made up of Dave Engelhart and Carolyn Duffy.

“I’m concerned that that’s not in here,” he said.

Councilman Dean Burrell agreed.

“This position went forward I think because of the need expressed by Dave…,” Burrell said. “I would really like to see those items that are expected to be taken care of in Dave’s department expressed in the job duties. That would just make me feel better and would make me feel better because I really do believe this council agreed with going forward with this position because of the expectation of the assistance Dave’s department would receive from this individual.”

Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said the job description indicated the position would help other departments.

Orris maintained that assistance to the planning department, so existing staff there could focus on code enforcement issues, was meant to be a key part of what the job entailed.

“You’re just asking to hire a deputy town administrator,” he said.

“Not at all,” Bohlen replied.

Mayor Zack Tyndall said adjusting the job description would impact who applied.

“The second we put a planning and zoning component in this that’s going to change or alter the applicant pool, maybe even diminish the applicant pool,” he said. “This defines it and doesn’t box in the position.”

Councilman Jay Knerr said the description was broad and the town wasn’t even sure how much time the individual would be needed in the planning department.

“This is a very broad job description,” he said. “It pretty much covers anything and everything.”

Councilman Steve Green said the points made by Orris were valid but he was ready to move forward.

“Your memory is correct but I think at some point we have to move forward with posting this job and getting the applications in and have faith in our administration that they’re going to fulfill our wishes that have been very clearly stated,” he said.

A motion to approve the job description tied with a 2-2 vote, Green and Knerr in favor with Burrell and Orris opposed. As a result of the tie, Tyndall voted and the motion passed 3-2.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.