Mayoral appointments cause friction in Perryville
PERRYVILLE — Minutes after Commissioners Christina Aldridge and Michelle Linkey were sworn into office by Charlene Notarcola, Cecil County Clerk of the Court, Mayor Matt Roath announced he was shuffling the assignments of the four commissioners.
Roath assigned Aldridge to water and sewer; moving her from planning and zoning, put Linkey on planning and zoning instead of police and public safety; assigned Tim Snelling away from public works and put him in charge of the administration post and set Bob Taylor to public works, moving him away from water and sewer. That left the police and public safety post, to which Roath assigned himself.
Taylor immediately stated he disagreed with Roath’s assignment.
“The liaison needs to be someone who trusts them,” Taylor said.”The mayor has called out the police chief for submitting an inaccurate budget ... that was inflated and full of fluff.”
Taylor moved to override the assignments – a move that was seconded by Linkey – but Roath never called the motion for a vote.
At the May 3 town meeting where several uniformed members of the Perryville Police Department were in attendance, as part of a celebration of National Law Enforcement Officers Week, the officers turned their backs on Roath.
“I have my own personal opinion on what that was about,” Roath said Tuesday night. “But I am going to keep that between me and Chief Nitz.”
Roath said it was his job as mayor to make the assignments as he saw fit at the start of each term. Taylor countered that there’s nothing in the town charter giving a mayor that authority.
“It doesn’t say it in the charter,” Roath said. “It’s just the way it’s always worked.”
According to Taylor, the flap comes from the most recent budget hearings and the debate over increases in staffing for the police department.
“When the original budget was proposed it contained two new police officers,” Taylor said, adding the plan was to bring those officers in July 1. However, with financial constraints in mind, Nitz changed the hiring dates — and all the attended equipment for those officers — to October and February. It changed again to hiring both in April, saving the town around $77,000.
“We also assign each officer two radios; one on the uniform and one in the car,” Taylor said. Nitz and
Lieutenant Mike Reno decided to waive their second radios and assign them to the new hires, saving another $12,000. The department also opted to cancel its cleaning service and take on that task in house for more savings. Taylor said Roath took that as an indication that the police department was overspending.
“So right now the mayor doesn’t trust the police and the police doesn’t trust the mayor,” Taylor said. “The mayor says there’s no need for two new police officers with our arrangement through (Maryland Transportation Authority) police.”
He added, regardless of the assignment any elected official can meet at any time with the department heads.
“But the liaison position is to bring correct information back to the board,” Taylor said.