Wicomico Council Overrides Executive’s Veto

SALISBURY – County leaders this week voted to reaffirm a legislative bill vetoed by the county executive.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to reaffirm a legislation bill adopted by the council in May and subsequently vetoed by County Executive Bob Culver.

The legislative bill corrects a drafting error in the county’s personnel manual defining “termination-at-will.” Late last month, however, Culver returned the bill back to the council with his veto. In a letter sent to the council, Culver argued against the classification of at-will employees.

“I vetoed Legislation Bill 2019-03 correcting the definition of Termination-At-Will in the Personnel Manual,” he wrote. “For continuity of operations and the support of proper governance that eliminate charter violations which could result in wrongful termination, these key positions should not be at-will employees.”

Culver also highlighted Section 602 of the county charter, which reads, “A. All appointments and promotions of county employers shall be made on the basis of merit and fitness, except in case of persons employed to make or conduct a special inquiry, investigation, examination and installation, if the County Executive certifies that the employment is temporary and that the work should not be performed by regular county employees.

“B. Discrimination prohibited. The personnel system shall ensure that personnel actions with regard to merit employees are based on merit and fitness, and that no person shall be hire to, or removed from, or in any way favored or discriminated against, with respect to any county position because of their sex, race, national origin, religion or political affiliations.”

Culver said it was his responsibility to protect the county from any liability.

“No employees should be terminated without cause or good substance for such wrongful actions,” he wrote. “It is my duty to protect the county from the liability of wrongful and discriminatory termination and there should not be any language that excludes employees from a grievance process if this should occur.”

Councilman Marc Kilmer told the council on Tuesday he was in support of the bill’s reconsideration.

“I understand this legislation is merely correcting a drafting error in the initial legislation and bringing the personnel manual into the county charter with the rest of the personnel manual,” he said. “I think it’s a very uncontroversial bill.”

The council voted unanimously to reaffirm the legislative bill.

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.