Stewartstown was facing a nagging problem.
One of the borough's main drags -- Church Street -- was deteriorating and needed repair. Motorists were complaining on a regular basis.
But the borough council was struggling to come up with money for the work, said council president Marsha England.
The southern York County borough hasn't raised taxes in years, and the council was determined to hold the line.
The council saw an opportunity when the borough administrator position became vacant, England said. It eliminated the job, redistributed responsibilities and used the savings to help pay for the estimated $120,000 worth of work on Church Street.
Until the job was cut, residents in Stewartstown -- on a per capita basis -- were shouldering the highest cost among York County municipalities to employ a full-time administrator or manager, according to a countywide review of municipal employee salaries.
Last year the $57,720-per-year job translated into the equivalent of $28.83 in taxes per resident, based on 2009 population estimates.
England said the decision to eliminate the Stewartstown administrator position means council members and the remaining office staff must do more work to pick up the slack, but said she believes it was the right move.
"The council is quite happy with the way things have turned out," England said.
Nearly half of all York County municipalities employ a manager or administrator, The York Dispatch's salary review found. The roles are similar, except the position of manager must be created by an ordinance that defines the position's responsibilities.
The Dispatch compiled salary information using Right to Know Act requests submitted to each municipality. All but a few responded.
Pay: The highest-paid manager last year was Springettsbury Township's John Holman, who earned $125,966. His salary averaged out to about $5 for each of the township's estimated 24,968 residents.
He was also one of seven managers who earned more than rank-and-file state lawmakers ($78,315), and one of two municipal managers who made more than $100,000 last year.
The other was Spring Garden Township manager Gregory Maust, with a salary of $117,083, or about $9.68 per resident.
The president York County Commissioner this year, by contrast, is earning $82,903, and the two other commissioners make $79,942.
Elected leaders, who ultimately decide whether to employ a manager or administrator, say the jobs are essential to smooth operation of the municipalities.
Council members and township supervisors typically only work on a part-time basis for their municipalities and delegate day-to-day operations to managers and administrators.
They say managers and administrators essentially act as the chief executive officers of a municipality. Supervisors and council members are like a board of directors whose focus is on broader policy decisions.
Secretary/treasurers are typically the top administrators in York County municipalities without a manager or administrators. They typically earn salaries in the $30,000-range, The York Dispatch's review found.
"The position of manager is more of a technical position that requires a breadth of experience," said Ron Grutza, assistant director of government affairs at the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. "It does take a compensation that is pretty competitive in our state."
Responsibilities: Elected officials in municipalities that employ some of the highest-paid managers or administrators say the salary is reflective of the job duties.
In Springettsbury Township, Holman manages a staff of about 120 employees and oversees a slew of services including the township's police force, public works, recreation and its regional sewer plant, said Bill Schenck, chairman of the board of supervisors.
At about $5 per resident, Holman's salary on a per-capita basis is one of the lowest among municipalities with a full-time manager or administrator.
"We probably provide more services to our residents and our community than any other township in the county," Schenck said. "I think the salary is right in line."
The York Dispatch's review does not include the value of employee compensation packages, which can include health, vision, retirement and other benefits.
York City: York City residents arguably get one of the best deals in the county when it comes to business administrator Michael O'Rourke, who handles the lion's share of the city's day-to-day administrative duties.
He earned $99,535.57 last year, or about $2.46 in taxes from each of the city's estimated 40,434 residents.
O'Rourke did not return calls for comment on his salary, and city council president Genevieve Ray declined to discuss his pay. But she said the city council each year reviews the pay of department heads to ensure fairness.
Asked to compare Holman with O'Rourke, Schenck said Springettsbury Township offers a similar number of services with fewer employees, which leaves Holman with more direct responsibility.
He also pointed out that York City has a mayor, which Springettsbury doesn't.
"I think you'll find a lot more layers of management (in the city)," Schenck said. "Springettsbury's management team is extremely lean."
Dover: Dover Borough Manager Bradley Lentz was the second highest-paid manager/administrator on a per-resident basis before Stewartstown eliminated the position. Now he's the highest paid, at $54,856.80 last year, or about $28.41 per borough resident.
Council president Joseph Sabold said Lentz has more responsibility than most borough managers because his breadth of duties includes managing maintenance of the borough's water system and acting as the borough's zoning officer.
Plus, Lentz also is responsible for the borough's sewage treatment plant and is overseeing an ongoing upgrade of the facility.
The borough must pay a reasonable wage to retain the type of talent and experience needed for those kinds of activities, Sabold said.
"In the borough of Dover, I think with the duties the manager has, that reflects on his salary," Sabold said.
-- Reach Carl Lindquist at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.