Baser to stay on part time for now

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The Hollidaysburg Borough Council voted to keep former Main Street Manager Jamie Baser on as a part-time consultant while officials work to select her replacement.

Borough Manager Mark Schroyer originally proposed that Baser be paid $20 an hour for her continued work but said she would be willing to accept $16 an hour, which was close to what she made as a salaried employee. Council approved the lower pay rate.

Baser left the position at the end of February to take a position in marketing with UPMC Altoona.

She will be kept on the borough’s payroll for the time being, which will make the transition easier.

“It’s cleaner that way,” Schroyer said.

Baser will be responsible for making sure the manager’s duties continue to run smoothly while the job is vacant and will also assist in training the new hire.

Baser’s pay will be split between the borough and the Hollidaysburg Community Partnership, as part of their contract for the Main Street Manager position. The borough and the partnership try to split the manager’s salary and benefits costs equally based on a pre-determined value, though they can fluctuate and make the borough’s contribution slightly higher, said borough Finance Director Jim Gehret. For 2014, both sides are kicking in $17,500 for the position.

Schroyer said the borough has received between 15 and 20 applications for the position. The application window closed Friday, and officials will be working to go through resumes next week, he said.

To help select the best candidate, Sean Burke, president of the partnership’s Board of Directors, proposed an extended contract between the borough and the partnership to maintain the manager position for three to five years.

Burke said it will be hard to hire the most qualified candidates, especially if they’re being hired away from another job, if they can only be promised work for eight months.

“It will not attract and maintain quality folks,” Burke said.

The council approved moving forward with a long-term agreement, as long as both sides agree to each pay half of the manager’s salary for the foreseeable future. No official numbers were worked into the plan, to ensure that both sides are paying for the Main Street Manager position equally.

Councilman Patrick Plummer expressed concern about the productivity of the position. He voted in favor of the long-term plan but said he hopes to see more events coordinated by the manager in Hollidaysburg for the future.

“They have to produce,” he said.

Schroyer said it was important to develop a long-term funding plan, as the borough had been pulling funds from different sources, including the general fund and parks and recreation funding, to pay for the Main Street Manager. The money available from parks and recreation is declining, he said, so the borough needs to sort out where the funding can come from instead of “putting it together piecemeal.”

Once finalized, the long-term agreement will be in effect for 2015, as this year’s contract for the Main Street Manager program is already in place.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.