Dover economic office returned to mayor’s oversight

DOVER — Council voted unanimously Monday to return the city’s economic development office to the mayor’s oversight.

The vote reverses a decision council made Aug. 10 on the recommendation of the deputy city solicitor.

At that meeting earlier this month, council had accepted Deputy City Solicitor William Pepper’s recommendation to override Mayor Robin Christiansen’s veto of a 5-3 council vote from March 23.

That vote made the mayor’s office a full-time position with all departments, except for the city clerk’s office and the finance department, reporting to the city manager.

Mr. Pepper said the mayor’s veto of that change had to take place within seven days of council’s March 23 vote to be valid.

But during Monday night’s meeting Mr. Pepper provided a revised legal opinion. He stated that because city council adopted fiscal year’s 2016 annual operating budget that included the mayor’s 2016 organizational chart — which had the police department and economic development department office under the mayor — the March 23 motion to move the department to the city manager’s oversight was reversed.

“The effect of the July 27 meeting to affirm council’s meeting on March 23 to move the economic development office under the city manager was to revise the city manager’s organizational chart in the fiscal 2016 budget,” said Council President Timothy Slavin.

“The mayor vetoed that motion within the time required by the charter and the economic development office will remain under the mayor unless council overrides the veto.”

Council could have overridden the veto with a two-thirds majority vote, but chose not to.

“I think, with everything going on in the city, I think we have bigger issues,” Councilman William Hare said. “I think we just leave things in place like they are. Just like it was before we started. I think we have more important matters to deal with.”

The police department and economic development office will now report to the mayor.

The city manager, controller, city planner, city assessor and the city clerk will report to council and all other city departments will report to the city manager.

Council will discuss the structure of the city’s government on September 16, but Councilman Hare didn’t see a need to discuss the matter.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. said the meeting is needed to hear feedback from residents.

“We need to continue to include our constituents in regards to this matter,” Mr. Sudler said. “We made personal opinions as to how the government should be ran.

“But truth be spoken, we represent our constituents as we need to continue to get the support and input of them to report back to city council as a whole in regards to what we need to vote for moving forward.”

Councilman Brian Lewis shared the same sentiment.

“I would like to hear from everyone in Dover,” Councilman Lewis said. “We were elected to represent them and I would like to hear what they have to say.”

Council President Slavin said he appreciates everyone’s effort to get everything back in place moving forward.

“We’re getting back to focusing on the outcomes of our government whether than the form of our government,” Mr. Slavin said.

“I think we broke the trust and understanding that people had. I think we should live up to that commitment.”

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