The municipal council terminates the mandates of the members of the board of directors and of the commission

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City council is giving itself more time to consider options for how long appointees should serve on boards and commissions.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Dozens of unpaid appointees serve on various boards and commissions that are generally not well known to the public, but still constitute a significant part of Ocean City local government.

They include the Planning and Zoning Boards, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Library Board of Directors, the Tourism Development Commission and others. There is even a Shade Trees Commission that oversees the planting and maintenance of trees and shrubs on public streets and on city properties.

The city council on Thursday evening approved an ordinance aimed at temporarily terminating the terms of those appointed to these boards and commissions in order to avoid having to make “massive appointments” by the end of the year.

Approved by a 7-0 vote, the ordinance suspends terms until Dec.31, 2022, giving Mayor Jay Gillian’s council and administration another year to possibly develop a new plan for how long the people appointees should sit on boards and commissions.

Previously, members of a council, commission or committee appointed by the mayor or council could not be reappointed after serving two consecutive full terms.

As the end of the year approaches, a number of appointees would have had to resign after their second consecutive terms expired on December 31 had the Council not approved the new ordinance.

A whole new generation of appointees would have been needed to fill the vacancies had term limits not been set aside.

“This will eliminate the need for massive appointments,” city lawyer Dorothy McCrosson told Council of the immediate impact of the ordinance.

McCrosson said the board will now have more time to consider its options for the board and commission terms. They could include the complete abolition of term limits, their reinstatement or the assignment of appointees to staggered terms.

City attorney Dorothy McCrosson told council “massive appointments” would be needed by the end of the year if term limits were not put aside.

The Council can modify the ordinance at any time in 2022, if it wishes. If not, term limits would be suspended at least until December 31, 2022.

Some Council members indicated that they were in favor of a staggered term system to create positions that could be filled by new people who would bring new ideas to the city.

City Councilor Karen Bergman agreed the city should find ways to encourage “new blood” to serve on boards, but she also expressed concern that too many experienced appointees could be lost.

“These are all important jobs. These are all important positions, ”said Bergman of the need to keep board and commission seats filled.

In an interview after the board meeting, Gillian said term limits made it more difficult to find enough people appointed to fill boards and commissions. He said that in some cases, some councils struggle to have enough members for a quorum for their meetings.

Gillian has indicated that he is ready to work with the council to develop a board appointment plan to satisfy everyone, including residents of Ocean City.

At the same time, he stressed that he considers experienced members of councils and commissions to be particularly valuable to the city.

“I’m looking for experience,” he says. “When you talk about town planning and zoning boards, you need experienced members who know the codes and the laws. “

During public comments on the new ordinance, Ocean City resident Donna Moore urged the council to seriously consider having staggered terms for the appointees.

Moore said having staggered terms would be a “democratic” way to open up board and commission seats to talented new members.

“I support him because we need fresh energy in the city,” she said.

The area surrounding 14th Street and Haven Avenue is prone to flooding during storms.

In the remaining business on Thursday, Council rejected offers for new stormwater pumping stations to be placed at 10th Street and Haven Avenue and 14th Street and Haven Avenue to help alleviate the problems. chronic flooding in the region.

Nine bids ranging from $ 11.7 million to $ 17 million were rejected because they were significantly higher than the city engineer’s estimate of $ 8.6 million for the pumping stations.

“We remain committed to the project,” city administrator George Savastano told city council of the city’s plan to continue building the pumping stations.

The city is seeking state and federal funding to help fund pumping stations, drainage improvements and road construction projects between 9th and 18th Streets, including the 10th and Haven and 14th and Haven flood zones.

Savastano mentioned the possibility of the city starting to build the road improvements separately from the pumping stations to get the project started.

Despite being only half a mile long, 14th Street is considered one of Ocean City’s most important thoroughfares for cross-traffic.

Starting from the bay and heading east toward the ocean, the street passes through residential neighborhoods, through the downtown business district, and then ends at the boardwalk.

Perhaps the most pressing problem is the 14th Street flooding problem in the Haven Avenue area.

The city’s plan to mitigate flooding between Ninth and 18th Street, including 14th Street, is part of a larger strategy to protect the island from stormwater. Overall, the city has offered to spend $ 25 million on flood mitigation projects in the city over the next five years.


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