Council To Review City Charter

4By Terry Rogers

On Monday, June 8, 2015, Mayor Bryan Shupe requested that all Milford City Council members review the City Charter and meet with him to discuss any questions or concerns they may have. Mayor Shupe said that he had discussed a review of the charter with City Solicitor, David Rutt.

“I have asked David to review the current charter and put together a synopsis,” Mayor Shupe said. “We have a few new members of council and I think it is a good idea for us to periodically review to see if we need to make any updates and to clarify anything council may not understand.”

According to Mr. Rutt, the current charter was adopted five years ago and that it was recommended that the city review their charter at least every five years. He reminded council that they would be required to have any changes to the charter approved by the General Assembly. Mayor Shupe said that he wanted to meet with council from each ward at once. That way any issues facing the ward could be addressed at that time as well.

“I think we should hold a workshop so all of us can discuss our concerns rather than do them a few at a time,” said Councilman James Starling. “We need to know what each ward feels is an issue and work together to adjust the charter if necessary.” When asked whether a meeting between the mayor and two councilpersons would require minutes under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Rutt explained that two members of council meeting with the mayor would not be a violation, but that if three members were to meet, the meeting would require minutes and notice given to the public.

“I think you can do both,” Mr. Rutt said. “I think it is advisable for the mayor to meet with each ward individually and then for council to hold a workshop to discuss all recommendations.”

In addition to discussing the need to review the city charter, council voted unanimously to create a Project Manager position for the city. Mr. Rutt explained that he had reviewed the Internal Revenue Service rules to see if it would be beneficial for the city to hire someone for the position on a contractual basis or if they would need to hire them as an employee.

“The IRS has a 20 point checklist regarding whether an individual is an employee or a contractor,’ Mr. Rutt explained. “In my opinion, based on this checklist, it would be impossible for the city to make the project manager position a contracted position because they must answer to the city manager.” Hans Medlarz, City Manager, explained that the need for a project manager was growing increasingly important due to large projects the city was dealing with over the next few years.

Mr. Medlarz explained that the Bayhealth project alone would take a considerable amount of his time and that the upcoming USDA projects would further increase his job duties.

“Without a project manager, things will begin falling through the cracks,” Mr. Medlarz explained. “I only have so many hours in the day that I can provide for each project. We can certainly go to a company and pay them to do it, but that means fewer funds being used toward the project. We would not need to budget for this position because it will be recovered through fees.” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said that she could see a need for such a position as the Bayhealth project breaks ground, the workload for Mr. Medlarz would only increase.

Councilman Jamie Burk asked whether the project manager would be kept busy on a full-time basis once large projects were completed. His concern was a full-time employee who would have nothing to do once a large project like Bayhealth was completed. Mr. Medlarz assured council that the need for such a position would be ongoing as once one project ended, another would most certainly begin.

Mr. Medlarz said that a job description would be posted and open to applications within the next few weeks.

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