OCEAN CITY- Much of the discussion during Tuesday’s Mayor
and Council meeting about the future of the organization appeared to have been
borne out a plan prepared by City Manager Dennis Dare last winter to expand the
scope of the paid emergency services organization at the expense of the
historic volunteer agency, but some on the council said they had never been
privy to the document.
In January, Dare apparently floated a conceptual plan,
based on the recommendations of an independent consultant, to streamline the
town’s emergency services, fire service and paramedics by placing them under
one umbrella with oversight given to director of Emergency Services Joe
Theobald. Under the plan, a new division would be created in Emergency Services
called Fire and Rescue Services and current Emergency Medical Services Captain
Chuck Barton would be promoted to Division Chief of Fire and Rescue Services.
The 102-year-old Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company, which
has enjoyed relative autonomy for over a century, would then report to Barton,
who would report to Theobald, who would, in turn, report to Dare, who would
ultimately report to the Mayor and Council. Under the plan, the OCVFC would
continue to exist, but would based largely in West Ocean City where proceeds
from the sale of equipment and land to the town would be used to build a West
Ocean City station on Keyser Point Rd.
While the plan rankled the OCVFC and led to the
heart-to-heart with the mayor and council on Tuesday to discuss the future of
the organization, some on the council said they had no recollection of even
seeing the plan. Others said they had seen it, but it was quickly dismissed.
“We saw a radical plan from the city manager back in
January, but that idea was immediately retracted,” said Mayor Rick Meehan.
“That radical idea resurfaced last Tuesday.”
Councilwoman said it was not unusual for the city manager
to present the council with ideas, some more practical than others. She denied
any intent by the council to follow through on the plan for the OCVFC.
“We have not come in here with any plan,” said Howard.
“Dennis Dare works for us. We pay him to throw ideas at us. Some of them stick
and others are dismissed. “This plan everybody is talking about might have been
one of those ideas.”
Council President Joe Mitrecic said he had seen the plan,
but it was quickly retracted because it would not be palatable to the OCVFC. “When
Dennis floated that plan in January, it was understood that it was unacceptable
to you and it died right there,” said Mitrecic.