City Manager Resigns Effective Next Month

City Manager Resigns Effective Next Month
City Manager Doug Miller is pictured at his first press conference in 2016. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — In a bit of a surprise, Ocean City’s fifth-ever City Manager Doug Miller turned in his resignation this week nearly six years into the job.

Miller last week announced his resignation in the form of a memorandum sent to the Mayor and Council and other city staffers. The Town of Ocean City on Wednesday made Miller’s resignation announcement public.

“After a good deal of reflection, I have decided to pursue other interests and, thus, hereby resign my position as City Manager for the Town of Ocean City,” the memo from Miller reads. “I wish you all the best in guiding this wonderful city into its bright and promising future.”

Under the town’s charter, Ocean City operates under a council-manager form of government with the city manager acting as the chief executive officer (CEO) of sorts of the operation. While the city manager acts at the direction of the Mayor and Council, the position handles the daily operations of the town.

Miller was hired in 2016 after a nearly year-long recruiting and vetting process to replace then-City Manager David Recor, who resigned in 2015 during what was described at the time as a “mutual agreement.” Mayor Rick Meehan served as interim city manager.

“Please join me in wishing all the best to Doug Miller in his next chapter,” City Council President Matt James’s email read Wednesday to all employees. “Doug has notified the City Council of his decision to resign from the position of City Manager to pursue other interests. His last day with the town will be January 31, 2022.”

With Miller’s resignation announcement, Ocean City will be seeking its sixth-ever city manager. Previous city managers were Tony Barrett, Joe Braun, who served only a brief stint, long-time City Manager Dennis Dare, Recor and Miller. Throughout the most recent changes, Meehan has served as acting-city manager per the town’s charter, a role he will assume once again when Miller’s resignation becomes effective on Jan. 31 and will continue until new applicants are appropriately vetted and a successful candidate is ultimately hired.

In the email to city staff, James spoke highly of Miller’s service to the town.

“Over the last six years, Doug has faithfully served the town by providing oversight for all of the administrative functions of our municipality,” he said. “His efforts developing the annual budget, working with collective bargaining units and building relationships with his colleagues represents a small sampling of his contributions to the town. His dedication to public service and his professionalism will be missed by many in Ocean City.”

For his part, Miller said in a statement on Wednesday his resignation was based on a decision to pursue other interests and praised his colleagues in the town’s municipal government.

“It’s been a tremendous and rewarding professional experience to serve as Ocean City’s City Manager,” he said. “I have had the privilege, honor and pleasure to work with the finest group of municipal employees in the state of Maryland. They are truly an outstanding group of skilled and dedicated local government professionals whose commitment to public service is second to none.”

Miller’s resignation announcement comes at a time of significant change in Ocean City. Resort officials for months have been discussing the potential change in the town’s branding and marketing strategy. On his watch, the town has maintained financial stability with a healthy fund balance and growth in many sectors. He also helped navigate the resort through the pandemic.

When Miller was announced as the new city manager in Ocean City in 2016, he called himself “the happiest guy in the room.” When Meehan officially swore in Miller as the town’s fifth-ever city manager, he referred to himself as the “second happiest guy in the room.”

Miller said during his swearing-in ceremony at the time, “I feel like a kid on Christmas morning,” and “When I sought this position, I was impressed by the elected officials and the caliber of people we have working in Ocean City. I just can’t wait to get started. I thank you for the confidence you have in me and I only hope I will live up to it.”

It’s uncertain this week just how the process to replace Miller will play out, but there is clearly a precedent. When Recor resigned in 2015, the town hired Slavin Management Consultants (SMC) to conduct a search for his replacement. It is likely a request for proposal (RFP) will be sent out for the city manager search efforts, but SMC has a history of working with the town dating back to a search in the 1970s for a new city engineer.

During the town’s last search for a new city manager, SMC followed a five-step process starting with defining the job qualifications and requirements. After winnowing the field of potential candidates, the city council ultimately voted to approve Miller as the new city manager.

Miller cut his teeth early in his career working in Ocean City government, leading to his appointment as town manager of Snow Hill. He also served as town manager in La Plata before becoming city manager in Aberdeen, a position he held for 10 years before returning to Ocean City.

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.