Jim Hall: Compromises On City Ordinances Possible

OCEAN CITY – Although the mayor’s vetoes have brought controversial ordinances to a halt for now, Council President Jim Hall is in the works to keep the momentum moving.

Jim Hall has been pushing for some movement in decreasing town employee’s pay and salaries for at least the last two years. Now with colleagues Joe Hall, Brent Ashley, and Margaret Pillas on his side, a solid majority vote has been formed on the council and consequently 11 ordinances were formed and passed in 4-3 votes.

“The whole idea behind pushing those ordinances was to get the people moving, and I think we accomplished that goal,” Jim Hall said Wednesday.

Mayor Rick Meehan vetoed seven of the 11 ordinances on Tuesday night, believing the ordinances have been “ram-rodded” through without enough discussion.

In order to keep moving ahead, Jim Hall is working on getting three or four of the seven ordinances vetoed scheduled for discussion. He is brainstorming ways to form a compromise on several of the ordinances vetoed.

“He [Mayor Rick Meehan] agreed with most of the changes not just all of the changes,” Jim Hall said. “I listened to Rick’s objections and I think we can come to an agreement.”

While stating his reasoning behind the vetoes, Meehan explained he understood where the majority of the council was coming from in forming those policies and agreed that some kind of action was needed.

Certain ordinances the mayor agrees with but would like to further discuss in order to make some modifications include vacation time for new hires, a revised salary schedule for new hires, as long as it’s a graduated scale and not a decrease across all levels of position, a revised retirement plan for new hires, and a revised increase in cost share ratio for employee health insurance for new hires.

A few weeks back, the council asked its financial advisors to perform an actuarial study to review the town’s fiscal position and how changes to the town employee salaries and benefits would impact the town.

The actuarial study will be presented to the Mayor and City Council during the meeting scheduled on Feb. 1.

According to Council President Jim Hall, another two out of the seven ordinances vetoed are going to be scheduled that same day to be discussed following that actuarial study.

“I didn’t hear anything last night that I don’t think we can easily overcome,” he said.

Jim Hall said he was content with the way Tuesday night’s meeting played out.

“I was very pleased with … the attitude of everybody, and with the spirit of compromise in everybody,” Jim Hall said. “The way the council handled it and the way the audience handled it. … We work with the employees, and we work for the taxpayers and there is a definite distinction between the two. Some are employees and taxpayers. So I think we are all on the right track and the right page, and I think very soon we’ll steer a compromise and get those things worked out to everybody’s satisfaction.”

Hall admitted the road to compromise may be a bit challenging.

“We are going to save millions and millions of dollars,” Jim Hall said. “Actually in the last couple years, we have already begun saving millions and millions of dollars and passing these ordinances is going to continue that.”

Hall stated that by passing the ordinances it will ensure the current employees of their jobs in the future, and their pay and pension will continue to be “solid”.

“This not only saves the taxpayers a ton of money, but it also ensures the present employees are protected, and that’s important,” Jim Hall said. “I truly believe in my heart that it will work out to everybody’s benefit.”