Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The Ocean City Mayor and Council will soon get more involved in the city manager search process as it’s apparently nearing the proverbial finish line.

“We had 48 candidates apply for the job from all over the country,” Ocean City Human Resources Director Wayne Evans said this week. “With the help of a consulting firm, the field was narrowed to 13 semi-finalist candidates. We’ll be conducting interviews next week and hope to have someone on board by the first of the year.”

The timing works well for Ocean City’s seasonal nature. The new city manager should be in place in the winter and be involved in the full budget process for the next fiscal year. If all goes as planned, this will be a much shorter timeline than the most recent effort to hire a city manager. Based on that nightmare process, I figured it would be late spring before the city had its new chief executive.

The last time the city went through this process in early 2012 to replace Dennis Dare a similar process played out. However, here’s to hoping this time an elected official doesn’t pick up the phone and call one of them before the process plays out.

Readers will remember that’s exactly what happened in April 2012 when former Councilman Joe Hall phoned then-Fort Pierce, Fla. City Manager David Recor. This publication was then easily able through phone records to identify Recor as one of the finalists and the council majority’s favorite. Recor started here in the middle of the summer and lasted just three years.

Ocean City Air Show officials on Monday are expected to announce the headline act for the 2016 show, and while it remains to be seen which high-flying military and private acts will grace the skies over the resort next summer, one thing is certain. It will not be the U.S. Navy Blue Angels again.

The Blue Angels released their 2016 air show dates this week and they will be performing at the Dayton Air Show in Ohio on the same dates as the Ocean City Air Show, next June 18-19. Many of the military air show acts, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which have been featured multiple times here, are expected to announce their 2016 schedules at the annual International Council of Air Shows Convention in Las Vegas next week.

If it can’t be the Angels, I predict (and hope) it will be the Thunderbirds headlining next year’s edition.

In this week’s Q&A and podcast, Ocean City Councilman Matt James, who marked one year in office last month, discussed a recent matter that divided the council by a 4-3 vote. An issue of whether the city should proceed with a 2-percent raise for all town employees at the first of the year was discussed, and the three officials elected last November — James, Tony DeLuca and Wayne Hartman — opposed the plan. Instead, they seemed to support a case-by-case review for all of the city’s employees. In one of his longer answers of the interview, James, who is developing a reputation for being quite succinct, expounded on his stance.

“I don’t think the council is opposed to a 2-percent raise. I think we were opposed to giving everybody a 2-percent raise,” he said. Not everybody deserves a 2-percent raise, some people deserve way more, and some people deserve no raise. I’ve worked in the hotel business for a long time and, I think I said this during my campaign, I’d rather have a few good employees and pay them a little more, than have a large number of just okay employees. So, I think the employees that go above and beyond should be rewarded.”

Shoot for the sky early and hope for the best seems to be the thought process of the Berlin Fire Company with its 225-percent increase in funding request from the town.

That $1.3 million request will never happen, but the BFC is to be credited for getting out ahead of the budget process and at least planting the request early. Although the full contents of the letter are unclear, the BFC raises legitimate concerns about the current growth and further development of residential and commercial structures in town limits. It stands to reason more resources will be needed, but the town will never be able to meet that request without a significant property tax increase.

It will be interesting to see if the town sees fit to okay an increase at all or if it allocates the same amount.

As it seems to happen every year, there will be a few months of hell in Ocean City next spring when the Coastal Highway repaving project takes place.

All of the southbound lanes from the Route 90 Bridge to the Delaware line will be milled and repaved, resulting in headaches galore for residents for months. If the project is necessary, and we have to believe it is if the State Highway Administration says so, my beef continues to be the established completion date of the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. With May a significant month here, thanks to special events, the city needs to try and convince the state the deadline needs to be the end of April. For this project, that’s not going to be the case. SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer said, “Hopefully, the paving will start around March 1, but a lot depends on the weather. Our drop-dead date to be finished is May 26, which hopefully gets us in before Memorial Day.”