Dewey set to hire new town manager

Council targeting former Dover City Manager Scott Koenig
February 11, 2018

Story Location:
Dagsworthy Ave.
Dewey  Delaware  19971
United States

After near five months, the vacancy in Dewey’s town manager position could soon be filled.

During its Saturday, Feb. 10 meeting, by a 5-0 vote, council agreed to start contract negotiations with former Dover City Manager Scott Koenig.

“I love it,” said Mayor TJ Redefer.

The last day for former Dewey Town Manager Marc Appelbaum was Oct. 20. He and the town agreed to part ways after a summer-long revolt by a majority of town employees that accused him of inappropriate behavior and creating a corrosive work environment. A town-funded investigation concluded most of the accusations were not true.

As part of a separation agreement reached between Appelbaum and the town, the town agreed to pay Appelbaum’s salary and health benefits until his contract ends in March. In addition, the town agreed to pay Appelbaum an additional $100,000. Appelbaum’s two-year contract was set to expire March 11, 2018; his annual salary is a little more than $75,000 a year.

Appelbaum was hired as interim town manager in late 2012, before signing the first of two 2-year contracts in February 2013.

Shortly after Appelbaum’s departure, council formed a search committee to find candidates.

Redefer said the town received 25 applicants; four were called back, but two declined to be interviewed.

Following the meeting, Redefer said Koenig is the town’s top choice. He said he will conduct contract negotiations.

“We’re thrilled that he even considered coming to Dewey Beach,” Redefer said. “The optics will be really good for the town. He’s got the look and feel of management.”

Koenig spent 27 years in Dover, working his way up through the professional ranks before retiring as city manager in March 2017. In an email Feb. 11, he said Dewey represents a great opportunity personally and professionally.

I enjoy the work and the opportunity to make a positive impact on the community,” he said.

Koenig said he’s aware of Dewey’s governmental turmoil over the past nine months. He said he hopes his demeanor and background can have a calming effect so town officials can get down to accomplishing the goals and objectives of the commissioners as well as the staff.  

“Obviously, the level of animosity and negative storylines described in the press is a significant concern,” Koenig said. “Working in an environment with that level of turmoil is difficult on elected officials as well as staff and cannot be sustained.”

A lack of trust between the town’s police and administrative departments was cited by the police as one of the major issues leading to complaints against Appelbaum.

Koenig said he had a very good working relationship with the police department in Dover and will make every effort to build a culture of trust in Dewey.

“Our relationship was built by face-to-face contact,” he said of his time in Dover. “I listened to their challenges, requests and difficulties associated with their duties, and then we developed mutual strategies to protect and serve the community at reasonable levels and costs.”

Koenig said the biggest challenges he sees facing Dewey are workforce dynamics, redevelopment, budget management, business development, natural disasters and the potential impacts of sea level rise.

Koenig said Dewey, unlike Dover, does not own an electric, water or sanitary sewer system, so he won’t face those challenges, but since Dewey is smaller, he said, he anticipates wearing more hats as town manager.

“In the end, I anticipate the town manager position in Dewey Beach will be like the city manager position in the city of Dover,” he said.

As for the town continuing to use the federal surplus military program, Koenig said he’s read news articles about the issue in Dewey, but he hasn’t seen any official documents from the town. Until he does, he said, he’s reserving comment.

Redefer said he thinks Koenig is going to be very reliable for Dewey, which in turn means he’s probably going to be paid as such.

“We’re not afraid of paying him,” Redefer said.

Redefer said he would begin negotiations almost immediately, but he said he could not be sure when those negotiations will be completed.