Does OC Council Deserve More Pay?

OCEAN CITY — As Ocean City has evolved into a more year-round resort, is it time to revisit the annual salaries of its elected officials?

The unsolicited question was raised during the public comment period of this week’s meeting by Career Firefighter-Paramedic Union, Local IAFF 4369 President Ryan Whittington at this week’s meeting.

“As we go into October with every weekend packed with activities for families, then we go into November and then the holidays and different events, I think the goal of this council has been to become a true, year-round community,” he said. “You have achieved that.”

Whittington said the salaries of the elected officials have remained fairly stagnant over the years.

“I ask that you consider how we’ve evolved as a town,” he said. “It’s something we should look at. I took a look at the strategic plan and some of the goals and different initiatives and I believe we can start with your positions as Mayor and Council.”

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The Mayor and Council have not discussed salary increases, at least not publicly, and there has been no recent agenda item surrounding their salaries.

“You’re not part-time employees,” Whittington said. “I think you can look at what you do every day — constituent service, special events, council meetings, the various work sessions and commissions — and councilmembers make less than $10,000. That’s less than a part-time employee.”

Whittington urged the elected officials to take a closer look. The mayor’s salary is $30,000 per year and council members make $10,000 with the president making $11,000.

“I ask that you look at your structure with pay, not just your structure, but the structure of the town,” he said. “I don’t know how you actually go about increasing the salaries, but it should be looked at. Starting at the top with your positions, I would like to know how to increase those salaries, especially as we go into budget season.”

City Manager Doug Miller, who has held executive positions in other jurisdictions, agreed with Whittington’s assessment.

“To Mr. Whittington’s point, I agree you are grossly underpaid,” he said. “I have worked with other councils that do a fraction of what you do, and they get paid more.”

Miller explained the process for amending the town’s charter.

“… if you want to change the charter to adjust the salaries, it has to be done before the next council is seated,” he said. “In a little over a year, you’ll have an election, so whatever you do, if you do anything, would have to be done in that timeframe.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.