OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Council remained divided on a new employment agreement with new City Manager David Recor today, but the seven members did commit to a symbolic show of support in an unanimous vote for the resort’s new chief executive.
In a closed meeting prior to this afternoon’s work session, the council voted 4-3 — Brent Ashley, Jim Hall, Joe Hall and Margaret Pillas in support and Doug Cymek, Mary Knight and Lloyd Martin opposed — to accept an employment agreement with Recor.
After the vote was announced in council chambers, Mayor Rick Meehan requested a motion be made to commit to working with Recor for the betterment of Ocean City. Knight made the motion, which was seconded by Pillas and the vote was unanimous.
“When Mr. Recor gets here he will be city manager and I will step back into a single position as mayor. The last seven to eight months have been very trying ones here in Ocean City and as we move forward with our quest to fill a vacant position and hire a new city manager, I know there has been a lot of discussion and some things that may have derailed a very professional process along the way, but it is what it is and we are here to today and the council and the majority have voted to hire a new city manager and I think that is the right move,” Meehan said. “What I would like to ask the council to do is, although we may have some differences on how we got to where we are, we are moving forward and I think always the most important thing is for Ocean City to move forward, and as we do that I think we need to work together, and I would like to have a motion by the council, and I would like to see it be voted on unanimously, to do whatever we need to do to work with the new city manager, Mr. Recor, support his efforts and work with the department heads, all of our employees, and the citizens of Ocean City to give him every opportunity to succeed and make this a successful time in Ocean City.”
Council President Jim Hall agreed with the mayor’s statement.
“… I would agree with you. Even though the council members didn’t agree with the process, and the bumps in the road that we hit, it was not a personal attack in any way on Mr. Recor by any member of the council,” he said. “Thank you for all you [mayor] have done … the mayor has done a outstanding job communicating with all of us and keeping us all together through this trying time and hats off to the mayor.”
Recor is expected to begin working at City Hall on June 11. The terms of the entire agreement have not been disclosed, but the annual salary of $147,000 has been confirmed. He will receive three weeks paid vacation and be allocated $10,000 to assist with moving expenses.
Today’s vote was the culmination of a stormy month for Recor and Ocean City.
Recor’s identity was revealed three weeks ago after The Dispatch obtained Councilman Joe Hall’s cell phone records, which confirmed that he called his “front runner” in the process on April 11 and had a 13-minute conversation to discuss the nature of the council-manager form of government.
The cell phone number was tracked to Recor, who was at the time the city manager of Ft. Pierce, Fla., a racially diverse coastal town with a population of 44,000.
Once it was proven Recor was in the mix of the next city manager search process in Ocean City, the Ft. Pierce Commission began to ask questions. Recor initially told commission members he withdrew from the Ocean City process in March, but it was later discovered on the day he sent his emailed withdrawal he was convinced by the city’s search firm to stay in the running since he was the favorite.
On April 13, two days after Joe Hall called him, Recor and another finalist had their last interviews with council members in Ocean City. On May 1, the council voted 4-3 to authorize Springsted, Inc., the search firm, to begin contract negotiations with Recor.
On May 7, Recor told his Ft. Pierce commissioners he was staying with the city, but he never officially said he was out of the Ocean City process. At that same meeting, Recor was blasted by Commissioner Tom Perona, who sought a special meeting to discuss his termination.
After Perona let him have it, Recor reportedly knew his days in Ft. Pierce as city manager were about to come to a close. That’s reportedly when contract negotiations between Recor and the city heated up, and last Thursday night the city received a completed employment agreement from Recor.
Recor will be renting a home in the Little Salisbury community of Ocean City once he moves to the shore, which he considers home as he was raised in the Onancock, Va. area.
In a statement issued today, former City Manager Dennis Dare, who was forced into a resignation by the same 4-3 vote that brought Recor to Ocean City, said it’s time for Ocean City to unite behind its new chief executive.
“The last nine months have been a tumultuous time for Ocean City, and it is now time to put that behind us and together welcome David Recor as our new city manager. He will certainly need the full support of our elected officials, city employees and the citizenship in order to be successful.
“We all owe much gratitude to Mayor Rick Meehan for his leadership and commitment while serving as interim city manager for the last eight months. He has worked tirelessly along with our dedicated city employees to maintain the high standard of services residents and visitors have come to expect.”
In other news at today’s meeting, Acting Tourism Director Donna Abbott was promoted to full-time tourism director. Abbott has been the town’s communications manager and added the tourism head title after Deb Turk’s resignation earlier this year.