Ocean View town manager search down to three candidates

The Ocean View Town Manager Search Committee is again ready to select a candidate to manage the Town. After a brief executive session this week, the town council unanimously voted to allow Councilman Tom Sheeran and the committee the authority to extend a job offer to a candidate, as well as to negotiate an employment contract.

Sheeran said that the committee is down to three candidates and plans to make a selection soon.

“We will probably, within the next week or two — once we make a selection, we’ll make an offer to that individual. With any hope, we’ll have them on by the end of August, early September.”

Councilman Geoff Christ requested that such an offer not be extended until a final background investigation had been completed. The committee will also seek approval from all five council members before officially making a selection of their top choice for town manager.

The council this week also held a first reading for an ordinance to amend the personnel policy relating to nepotism. Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader said that he had reworked the ordinance to remove a number of family relations from the regulations, to make the policy consistent with the state’s Code of Ethics law. The sections on nepotism would now only extend to parents, spouses and children.

In the proposed ordinance, it states that immediate family members may not be considered for a position within the same department where a member of the employee’s immediate family is employed or is the department supervisor.

“I thought the way it was worded, it was stretched out to nieces and nephews and cousins, etcetera,” explained Sheeran of his request to amend the ordinance. “And that dragged it out a little bit beyond what was necessary. Particularly in a small community, you might have trouble.”

Resident Kathy Vengazo pointed out that the council had only addressed hiring decisions made after a relationship had been established.

“What if you have two police officers who get married? I think you’ll need to address that, because those things happen.”

Vengazo said that the policy also did not cover what would be done in the case of an emergency within the town.

“Let’s say, for example, we had some sort of huge civil unrest here and somebody’s brother has been a police officer and, maybe for an emergency, you might allow it to happen,” she said. “I’ve worked in large organizations and, trust me, these things happen. It’s better to be prepared for them before the fact than after it happens. It seems to me you need to add to this.”

“I think your point is well made, but if we have a true emergency where there’s a threat to life or property, the personnel ordinance will be the last thing anyone will consider,” responded Schrader.

The council will vote on the ordinance at their September meeting, following a second public reading.

In other town news:

• The town council will not hold a regular council meeting or workshop in the month of August. If a meeting is needed before the scheduled Sept. 11 meeting, the council will give seven days’ notice.

• The council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend the town code to exempt public works projects from the restrictions on hours and days of construction, alteration or repairs that may be carried out in the town.

• A pre-bid meeting for the new Public Works building was held, in which eight contractors attended and received bid packets. The bids must be returned to the Town by July 18, to be reviewed by staff before the contract for the project is brought to the council for a vote.

• Interim Town Manager Lee Brubaker reported that the new solar panel carport is fully operational and that the most recent electric bill for the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building was $244. Last year, during the same billing period, the bill was approximately $1,700.

• So far, the Town has collected approximately 6 percent of its overall tax bill. Residents have until Aug. 31 to pay their tax bills without penalty.