Fenwick to begin search for town manager

In a special town council meeting on July 20, Fenwick Island town council voted to approve a job description of a future town manager and start a search for qualified candidates.

A committee appointed by council earlier this year has been interviewing mayors of other towns, town managers, councilmen, University of Delaware officials and others about the duties of a town manager before it publicly presented its recommendation last Thursday.

The committee also recommended a salary of $45,000 to $65,000, with a benefit package totaling 20 to 25 percent of that salary. Salaries, however, will be negotiable upon a future hire, town officials said.

“I think the committee did a wonderful job in digging up details and background info and put together a comp presentation for council to consider,” Fenwick Mayor Pete Frederick said. “They really did a great job and came forward with a recommendation that I think makes sense.”

In a report sent to council on June 5 but not presented until last week, the committee wrote that the “Town Manager shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town, may be head of one or more departments, and shall be responsible to the town council for the proper administration of all affairs of the town.”

The report goes on to state that the town manager should be responsible for all town employees; participate in implementation of town goals, objectives and action plans; prepare the budget; keep account of all monies of the town; and prepare annual administrative reports to council. The future manager will also recommend adoption of town policies, supervise purchases, ensure all laws are enforced, attend all meetings, “devote full time to the discharge of all official duties,” and more.

In their research, the committee also interviewed town council and town employees, all of whom were in favor of a full-time manager, according to one committee member.

“The town employees want a town manager. They support one,” Town Manager Search Committee Member Diane Tingle said last week. (Tingle is also one of five candidates vying for three open council seats in the town’s Aug. 5 election.) “They want one person, not seven.”

The original committee tasked with devising a job description for the position will now take on three additional members, and committee chairman Buzz Henifin will serve as its facilitator as it transforms into a search committee.

“Right now, we’re trying to put together an appropriate ad” for the position, Henifin said. “Once we do that, we’ll get it out on the street.”

Frederick said that the committee will accept applications, interview possible candidates and narrow the list to the most qualified applicants before recommending that council interview several of those final applicants.

Someone could be hired by January of next year, Frederick said.

“If we find someone we want, maybe we’ll pay more,” he added, saying that the committee’s recommendation would cost the town $80,000 to $100,000 annually. “But maybe we can’t. That’s going to be a financial decision.”