by Lisa Tome
The Town of Rising Sun received a nearly $2.8 million grant from Maryland Department of the Environment last week. That will help offset the mounting cost of the wastewater treatment plant.
"I'm thrilled with the grant. We're getting almost $3 million that we don't have to pay back to anybody. But we're still spending a fortune on this plant," said Commissioner George Walker.
And although his employment contract dictates that he gets two percent of all grants received by the town up to $10,000, Calvin Bonenberger won't get any of it.
Both town officials and Bonenberger stated that the town administrator didn't write the grant. Commissioner Walker said the town has been working to get a grant since March.
"Calvin is not getting that money. He did not write the grant," said Walker. "Calvin has agreed he did not write the application and will not get the money. As far as I'm concerned, we pay him too much already. I told him that. In my mind, grant writing is part of his job as town administrator."
Bonenberger still remains among the highest paid officials in the county to oversee the town of about 2,700 people. He earns more than County Executive Tari Moore. His salary, as reported by Bonenberger is budgeted at $106,625 for the current fiscal year. According to his contract, which was signed in February 2013, and was made retroactive until January 1, 2013, Bonenberger was to be paid $95,000 per year with raises of $2,500 annually in each of the following two years. Town officials said he also took the three percent raise given to all town employees. Mayor Travis Marion said town officials didn't tell Bonenberger he couldn't have both raises.
"I think Calvin does double duty. Do I think he works hard? Yeah. Do I think we could look into his contract for cost savings? Yes. We will have a discussion for it next January," said Mayor Marion.
With just over two years of hands-on experience, Rising Sun Mayor Marion is the most senior member of the town board.
Commissioner Walker has been on board for 13 months. Commissioners Allen Authenreath and David Warnick have been on the board for a little over a month. Jennifer Scully has been a commissioner for a week.
In the past few weeks, closed door meetings have been held twice in an attempt to bring board members up to speed on legal and personnel issues.