Wicomico Executive Questions Charter Changes

SALISBURY – County Executive Bob Culver came before the Wicomico County Council this week to oppose potential charter amendments that would alter how deputy directors are appointed and how county departments would be authorized to transfer capital assets.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council held a public hearing on two proposed charter amendments. The first amendment would require council confirmation for the appointment of deputy directors and the assistant director of administration, while the second amendment would, among other things, require council approval to transfer $15,000 or more in depreciating capital assets to other county departments or agencies.

“I have a couple of questions and I feel like this should be postponed until we have a better time to talk about them,” Culver said.

Culver noted that several deputy directors from various county department had reached out to him with their concerns regarding the changes.

“If that deputy director stays in effect, he is not going to be coming up for reapproval every year as the directors do, but that’s not written in this paragraph. It does not give them the confidence,” he said. “The other part is that they become an at-will employee, rather than a merited employee. You’ve got several deputy directors, as we all know from experience, who will not go up to being a director as long as there is a chance they could be let go by any council or anybody in an executive position.”

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Culver said he was also opposed to a charter amendment that would require county departments to seek council approval to transfer depreciating capital assets valued at $15,000 or more. He noted, for example, that the county’s roads and solid waste departments frequently transferred dump trucks.

“It’s starting to be micromanaging when you have to figure out if the dump trucks should be transferred from solid waste to roads,” he said. “I feel that’s not another part the council needs to get into.”

Despite several work sessions on the proposed charter amendments, Culver said he would like to spend more time seeking input from directors, deputy directors and department personnel.

“I would ask that you postpone these and go into further discussion on them,” he said. “I don’t see the rush to get them onto the charter at this time.”

Council President John Cannon noted that the public has until June 11 to submit comments on the proposed changes.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.