Former Commissioner Marc Appelbaum has become a regular fixture in Dewey Beach Town Hall, and a majority of town council aims to keep it that way.
Dewey Beach Town Council approved a two-year contract for Appelbaum in a 4-1 vote, Feb. 9. Appelbaum has been serving as an interim town manager for the last six months.
“So this way I’ll be a town manager rather than act like a town manager,” he said jokingly.
Appelbaum is a full-time resident of Chevy Chase, Md. He has owned property in Dewey Beach for more than 25 years.
Appelbaum said the contract is at-will, so commissioners can terminate the contract at any time. “There is no severance pay provision,” he said.
Mayor Diane Hanson said Appelbaum will not accrue sick leave or vacation time, and he has agreed to work without a severance package or health insurance. “He’s not doing this for the money; he’s doing it because he wants to help our town,” she said. “He has a team of Jim Dedes and Mary Dunmyer working with him; all three of them are making less than the former town manager.”
Former Town Manager Diana Smith resigned in September 2011, after serving a year and a half at town hall. Police Chief Sam Mackert and former Financial Officer Bill Brown both acted as interim town manager after Smith left. Dedes, a business owner and resident, resigned from his post as chairman of the town manager search committee to fill the position for 90 days.
Former Town Manager Bob Stickels was hired in April 2012, but he served only three months before he resigned without notice. After Stickels left, Mackert again took over the position temporarily.
Last August, Appelbaum was unanimously approved to serve as acting town manager until town officials could find a permanent replacement for Stickels.
Hanson, who has been a member of town council since 2007, said she has worked with seven town managers. “Of all of them, I feel that Marc is the best of the bunch,” she said.
Hanson said she reviewed the town manager search committee guidelines, and Appelbaum meets all criteria for a town manager except experience applying for grants. “And I did not expect Marc to do grants,” she said. “It’s something that can be easily delegated.”
Appelbaum served as a commissioner and as chairman of the budget and finance committee from 2008 to 2010. He flipped a 2008 deficit of $722,000 into a surplus of more than $300,000 by February 2010, as reported in the Cape Gazette.
Since he has been at town hall, Hanson said, Appelbaum has addressed problems with the Bayard Avenue drainage project, kept the town abreast on construction at Ruddertowne, improved inefficiencies at town hall and managed the budget. “And I think we cannot ask for any more of one person,” she said.
Commissioners Anna Legates, Gary Mauler and Courtney Riordan also voted to approve the contract; Commissioner Joy Howell was the only member of council to vote against it.
Howell said the town manager search committee was cut out of the process. “I’m not sure why we were afraid of that evaluation, but we bypassed them, and I personally think that was a mistake,” she said.
“I can’t at this point, today, say that the public sector knowledge and sensitivities to the public and the public’s needs for transparency that I believe are necessary are present in this person, at this time,” Howell said.
“I appreciate the warm support,” Appelbaum said.