Ocean View hears from residents at hearing on IPA study
The town of Ocean View held a public hearing on Nov. 1 to solicit comments from citizens regarding the town’s future management structure and the University of Delaware’s Institute of Public Administration (IPA) study, which was commissioned by the council earlier this year.
“Simply, the council wants to know your views on what should be the role of the town manager and the financial officer of the Ocean View municipal government,” explained Town Manager Conway Gregory.
“We’re interested in your views,” added Mayor Gordon Wood, who was joined by Councilman Tom Sheeran.
The IPA study recommended the town maintain a “council-manager form” of government and found the need in the town for both a town manager and finance director.
The IPA cited that the council-management form of government is the most prevalent form in the state. It is a type of government in which the council is the policymaking authority and legislative body, and the town manager conducts executive and administrative functions.
According to the study, “based on a review of the Town of Ocean View’s Charter, it is clear that the council-manager form of government was intended by the Town’s founders and its citizens.”
Resident Susan Rush said she staunchly supports the IPA study’s recommendations, and believes the town should move toward a council-manager form of government.
“I recommend that the police chief be instructed by the mayor that he must be answerable to the town manager,” said Rush. “The town’s problems will not go away, until this council decides to abide by the Town Charter and also the new IPA study.”
Rush also stated that if council did not comply with the study, she believed they should repay the town the money spent on the study as well as resign immediately, to allow the town to hold a special meeting to elect new council members.
Resident Cliff Mitchell said that he agreed with the IPA’s findings as well.
“Basically, a town is a town just like a corporation is a corporation... In a town you are the board and you should have one person reporting to you.”
He noted that in previous meetings, some council members seemed wary of the study’s recommendations.
“There were concerns that the proper towns were not included, that some other smaller towns should’ve been chosen, that maybe a couple of bigger towns should’ve been chosen,” he said. “Our two senior-most senior council members were on a committee that chose those towns.”
Mitchell agreed that the study only offered one management structure for the town, but suggested that if council was seriously concerned, they return to them for additional help.
“I would be tempted to conclude that the IPA didn’t really think any [other management structure] had enough merit to be considered. I would suggest that if there is any lingering doubt about that and if there is time that you simply ask the IPA to address that. This whole study, including all three sections, ask them to clarify this point for you... It’d be money well spent to put it to rest.”
“I would just like to say that I am for the IPA study and I think we should follow it,” added resident Nancy Scoleri.
The town will hold another public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 10 a.m. in town hall to solicit further comments regarding the IPA study and residents’ views and concerns. A town council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. that evening to discuss the public comments received.