The SACC hosted its annual Mayors of Delmarva Forum in Ocean City at the Cambria Hotel on October 19, 2023. On the Mayoral panel were Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, Dover Delaware Mayor Robin Christiansen, Rehoboth Beach Delaware Mayor Stan Mills, Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor, Cambridge Mayor Steven Rideout, and Salisbury Mayor Jack Heath.
The mayors addressed various issues and challenges, including how the economy has impacted their budgets. Salisbury Mayor Jack Heath shared, “Our city is still recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Wastewater treatment chemicals and supplies for the city rose almost 400%, which was a big hit to the city operating budget.”
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan agreed, adding, “We have several projects underway in the city, and the rise in construction costs has impacted the overall cost to complete those projects.”
The challenge of filling vacant positions also garnered some thoughts from the mayors. Stan Mills, Mayor of Rehoboth Beach, said filling these city jobs is tough. “Competition, the demand for higher salaries, finding affordable housing options reduces the pool of potential new hires.”
Dover Mayor Robin Christianson added, “Our city has thirty-two civilian positions we cannot fill, and we are short twelve officer positions on our police force.”
That statement prompted the discussion to turn to crime. Salisbury Mayor Heath worries about youth offenders. “Child against-child violence is a real issue. Law enforcement is handcuffed in addressing crimes committed by minors due to limitations imposed recently by Maryland lawmakers. This makes enforcement very challenging.”
“We, like many cities, have vacancies we can’t fill. We’re unable to bring our police force up to its full complement of officers; young people just aren’t interested in being a police officer anymore,” added Heath.
Ocean City Mayor Meehan shared that his full-time compliment of officers is stable. “However, the city used to hire up to one hundred seasonal police officers to supplement our full-time officers during the summer season. This past summer, we could only hire twenty-seven seasonal officers.”
Cambridge Mayor Steve Rideout said that some youth crime issues are more complex. “There is a state program entitled Children in Need of Supervision aimed at juvenile offenders, but our court system in our city only saw four of these cases bright to court last year out of three hundred possible cases.”
Challenges related to infrastructure needs and improvements were a part of the discussions. Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor said her city faces a historical problem. “Flooding has been a major issue in our town, and it is an economic development issue.”
Mayor Taylor spoke to the future, “We are now working with FEMA, the EPA, and other entities to explore solutions to address this in a permanent way moving forward.”
The SACC wishes to thank the Mayor of Delmarva for taking the time to address membership today.
On Thursday, December 14, 2023, the SACC will host a special General Membership Breakfast featuring a panel of our Lower Shore higher education institution presidents. This event is a historic first, with all women leading these prestigious institutions. University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Dr. Heidi M. Anderson, Wor-Wic Community College President Dr. Deborah Casey, and Salisbury University President Carolyn Ringer Lepre will share their visions for their respective institutions, thoughts on the changing landscape of higher education, and the workforce and economic challenges facing the future.
The event will begin at 8:30 AM at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, DaNang Room. Tickets are $35 for Members and $45 for Non-members and may be purchased at www.salisburyarea.com.
Photo: SACC Board Chair and Moderator, Greg Reddell, Cambridge Mayor Steven Rideout, Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, Crisfield Mayor Darlene Taylor, Salisbury Mayor Jack Heath, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, and SACC President/CEO Bill Chambers.