OCEAN CITY – The newly reinstated Ocean City Recreation and Parks Committee met for the first time in two-plus years this week, laying the ground work for the upcoming meetings with all Mayor and City Council standing committees and commissions to ease any concerns.
Shortly after the last time the Recreation and Parks Committee met, the former council majority voted to disband the individual meetings of City Council legislative committees and commissions to have departments report to the Mayor and City Council in front of the public at City Hall during scheduled legislative sessions instead.
Following last November’s election, as well as a flip of the council majority, Councilman Joe Mitrecic moved to have the committees and commissions reinstated. The council voted 5-2 to approve, with council members Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas opposed.
Pillas and Ashley held strong to the reasoning behind the disbandment in the first place, and that is to conduct all city business in the council chambers at the same time and in front of the public. Ashley and Pillas did not volunteer to serve on committees and commissions and stated last week they will participate when those committee and commission discussions are reported back the Mayor and City Council.
On Tuesday morning, the Recreation and Parks Committee met at Northside Park. Appointed Councilmen Joe Mitrecic and Dennis Dare were present, accompanied by City Manager David Recor, Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster and Assistant Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito. Council President Lloyd Martin was absent.
First on the agenda was the election of a chairperson. Councilman Dennis Dare motioned for Mitrecic, and the remainder of the committee was in consensus.
Next the committee decided to switch up the traditional meeting time of the Recreation and Parks Committee from 9 a.m. prior to the first work session of each month to following it instead.
This was decided to help ease the work load in preparing bi-weekly scheduled closed sessions beginning at noon followed by a public work session at 1 p.m. The next Recreation and Parks Committee meeting will be held Tuesday, April 9, at 4 p.m.
To ease concerns over transparency, Recor made several suggestions on how to proceed in scheduling committee and commission agendas and reporting back to the full Mayor and City Council on the progress made over discussion items.
“As you have probably already learned, I have been implementing a lot of structure, and I think the staff has responded very well to structure and consistency, dependability and liability,” Recor said.
The City Manager’s Office will take over creating the agendas, which will be posted on the city’s website for all to see at least one week prior to the meeting.
Recor also suggested having agenda items assigned for discussion on the committee and commission level during the Mayor and City Council bi-weekly legislative meetings on Monday evenings during council comments and city manager comments.
“Even if it is not a member of the recreation committee that wants to assign an agenda item, they bring it up at the regular meeting and the council decides whether or not it is placed on the agenda,” he said. “The full council is still involved in the discussion of the agenda, and the full council is still involved in a follow-up report, and it is scheduled so that it is known when it will occur.”
Lastly, Recor recommended adding a new section to the Mayor and City Council legislative meetings for reports on committees and commissions under council comments. Reports will be given at the second legislative meeting of every month on the prior week’s committee and commission discussions.
“I am hopeful then we can get everyone on board with the old system but with some new ways of insuring the flow of information,” he said.
Dare added he would also like to see the minutes of the committee and commission meetings posted on the city’s website prior to the report so that topics can be expanded upon.
“I believe those establishments of procedures will proactively address any perceived inefficiencies of the committee and commissions,” Recor said.