Dare, Council Reach Deal On Severance Plan

OCEAN CITY — Three months after he submitted his resignation with stipulations, former City Manager Dennis Dare and the Ocean City Mayor and Council have reached a settlement on his severance package.

During closed session meetings at City Hall in early September, the council voted 4-3 to ask Dare for his resignation from the post he held since 1990. Council President Jim Hall and council members Brent Ashley, Joe Hall and Margaret Pillas voted to make the change, while Council members Doug Cymek, Mary Knight and Lloyd Martin opposed.

At a closed session gathering of the council on Sept. 8 at City Hall, Jim Hall reportedly opened the meeting reporting it was a time to make a change with the city manager’s position and that Dare was going to be asked to resign. If he did not resign, he was going to be terminated. Jim Hall said at the time the move was needed to change the direction of the town.

“This was a tough decision, one made by the majority of the council, to change the management direction of the town,” Jim Hall said on Sept. 9. “Dennis has done a wonderful, wonderful job for us, but we wanted to take the town in a different direction.”

Dare did submit his resignation on Sept. 9, but the terms of the separation were not known until Tuesday when the resignation and severance agreement was made official with a 5-2 council vote (Council members Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas opposed).

The four-page document is complex and details exactly what Dare is to receive from the city for his employment of 29 years — 21 of which as city manager and eight as city engineer. Dare would have been eligible for full retirement benefits next October, or his 30-year anniversary with the city. That fact further complicated the exit plan for Dare, considering the scope of the town’s pension system.

Since his resignation, Dare has been receiving his full pay rate ($173,404 per year) and employee benefits, and he will continue on that track until March 31, 2012 when he will essentially retire.

Starting April 1, 2012, the city will, according to the agreement, “pay to Dare in a paid leave status based on Joint and Survivor pension benefit as of thirty years of service to Ocean City as an employee in the amount of $6,665.83 monthly through October 31, 2012.” Subtracted reportedly from that amount will be costs for the health insurance coverage for Dare and his wife.

Combining his annual salary’s weekly rate, from Sept. 9, 2011 to March 31, 2012 with the adjusted salary from April 1, 2012-Oct. 31, 2012, the city will be paying Dare about $133,000 for not working, excluding vacation, holiday and personal leave pay owed to him and other benefit costs.

Additionally, the agreement stipulates Ocean City will pay into the general employees pension fund the regular employee contribution from April 1, 2012 through Oct. 31, 2012, which amounts to $4,765 during that time period.

Ocean City will also pay into Dare’s ICMA Deferred Compensation account $10,000 for 2011 and $2,500 for the first quarter of 2012. Additionally, the town will fund Dare’s life insurance premium at approximately $60 per month.

Dare’s accounting and legal fees will also be covered by the city upon receipt of itemized billings but it’s capped at an amount not included in the agreement inked this week.

Dare said Wednesday he was grateful to the council “for making me whole” and feels the finalized accord is much less costly to the city than what was initially proposed.

“I commend the five council members who voted to approve the agreement for fulfilling their promise,” Dare said. “In my opinion, it was a very fair settlement, and I’m thankful they did what they said they were going to do and not penalizing me for the whole pension account.”

Other items included in the agreement between Dare and the city are Dare gets to keep his city cell phone number; he receives lifetime free play at the city’s Eagle’s Landing Golf Course; Dare will receive a favorable letter of recommendation; Dare releases the city’s from further liability; among other items.

Along with Pillas, Ashley opposed the resignation and severance agreement. He declined to say what it was about the agreement he opposed as a result of the matter being handled in closed session.

“I’m happy Dennis is happy. The vote was in closed session so I can’t comment on the specifics. Anything in closed session I can’t comment on,” Ashley said. “Anything that moves us forward and brings the matter to a conclusion is a good thing. I will say anything that we all didn’t agree on was very minor.”

The city is currently in the midst of a national search to fill the vacant city manager post. Dare’s duties are currently being filled by Interim City Manager/Mayor Rick Meehan. In October, the city opted to seek an experienced firm to seek candidates through a national search, which is expected to cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 and will take at least four to five months, Human Resources Director Wayne Evans said in mid-October.

6 thoughts on “Dare, Council Reach Deal On Severance Plan

  1. It was nice of Dennis to let the city off so easy. If they did not agree the city would have had to pay it anyway plus the attorney’s fees and any additional award the jury would have imposed. Really not very much for trading in his “wrongful termination” or “age discrimination” winning lottery ticket lawsuit. All they paid was what was owed him anyway for his years of service. Terminating a 29 year plus employee just prior to his 30 year pension without cause has been tried before; I like it when those cases finally get to court before a judge and jury. Really all that has happened is the disruption of the orderly transition of the position of city manager to Mr. Adkins.

  2. They seem to running up quite a bill after promising to hold the line on spending your money, Dares settlement,70 grand in background checks for new officers, the tab for OCPD looking for Joe Hall all night and on top of that someone wants to have a party on voting day with your money too. Yea this is working out….NOT

  3. It’s not over for the city. I heard from a source within OCPD an EEOC complaint was filed by a police officer against DiPino and Kirstein for retaliatioan and age discrimination last month. Another polce officer quit today, December 5th. That makes 4 full-time police officers that have quit OCPD within 45 days. These are younger officers not retiring. Forget about Dare, it’s time to clean house with DiPino, Kevin Kirstein and a few other command staff officers. I heard one officer is suing for over 5 million. Who is going to foot the bill on that one? Us the tax payers, again!

  4. I have to echo the comment that “if Dennis is happy, then I’m happy.”
    I’d left Ocean City before all this hit the fan and was SHOCKED when I heard about his forced resignation.
    Dennis served the town incredibly well.
    Yes, I’m prejudiced. Liz Dare worked with me for many years at Oceana Magazine and I got to know and like Dennis during that time.
    The only thing I can do is HOPE that Ocean City is lucky enough to find someone who can match Dennis’ record of competence, civility and stability in running my favorite town.

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