Rehoboth commissioners silent on new city manager contract

Public raises concerns over Tedder’s pay, house loan, meeting charter-related qualifications
April 23, 2024

Rehoboth Beach commissioners met for the first time since the city announced the hiring of Taylour Tedder as its new city manager April 8.

Tedder is replacing former City Manager Laurence Christian, who left the city in November after 10 months. As part of Tedder’s contract, among other things, he will be getting $250,000 as an annual salary, $50,000 toward moving expenses, and $750,000 house loan that will be forgiven in full if he stays with the city for seven years.

At the outset of the meeting, Mayor Stan Mills imposed a three-minute limit on all public comments. Tedder’s contract wasn’t specifically on the agenda as a topic of discussion, but members of the public took advantage of every opportunity to comment anyway.

During the vote for street aid expenditures, usually a mundane necessity at the beginning of every commissioner meeting, property owner Tom Gaynor said the majority of the commissioners – Mills and Commissioners Edward Chrzanowski, Commissioner Patrick Gossett, Francis ‘Bunky’ Markert, Don Preston – weren’t elected properly and therefore any budgeting decisions should be put on hold because of outrageous budgeting. Gaynor referenced Section 7a of the city charter, which says that in the event there is no election needed, the polls shall remain open for one hour. There hasn’t been an election in two years in Rehoboth because only the minimum number of candidates filed – Chrzanowski and Markert in 2022; Mills, Gossett and Preston in 2023 – and the polls weren’t open for an hour either time.

Another round of comments came during a brief discussion on proposed amendments to the charter.

One of the proposed amendments would change the minimum qualifications for being city manager. Currently, a new city manager must have served as city manager of another city for at least four years and have engineering experience of at least four years. Tedder doesn’t meet either of those requirements.

Gaynor said this proposed change comes across as commissioners covering their rear ends after the fact.

Kathy Newcomb asked how Tedder’s employment contract can be valid and where in the charter does it give city commissioners the right to loan Tedder $750,000.

Former Commissioner Lisa Schlosser said she thinks Tedder is a probably a good guy, but she’s concerned that his work experience appears to violate two of the minimum requirements. He is not qualified to have been selected and the commissioners owe answers in writing to citizens and the state, she said.

Property owner Gloria Walls also questioned how Tedder could have been hired.

“I think it’s wrong,” she said, asking Interim City Manager Evan Miller if he would stay on as city manager. That drew a loud round of applause.

The final round of comments were made during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Jeffrey Goode, who lives near Grove Park, said the city is broke and for the amount of money the city is paying Tedder, it should have been able to find someone who met the minimum requirements.

Suzanne Goode, Jeffrey’s wife, said the city needs to rein in the out-of-control spending.

Gaynor said commissioners have lost the trust of constituents. The budget has exploded in the past seven years and the people don’t trust the commissioners because they’re not holding themselves to the same standards, he said.

Mills said the commissioners need to get a response prepared.

Property owner Rick Perry said it’s important to remember that Tedder didn’t make the decision on his contract and to not take it out on him when he begins working with the city. 

“Obviously, he’s smart enough to negotiate a good deal for himself,” said Perry.

Markert was the only commissioner to address the hiring of Tedder, but it was primarily to voice his support because he was absent the day the official vote was taken. However, he said, he appreciated all the comments made by the public, no matter how painful.

Following the meeting, Mills said he wasn’t prepared to address the issues and concerns raised at the meeting. He also didn’t have a response for when the city will have an explanation about how the conditions of the contract were reached. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders, lifted his hands up indicating he didn’t know and smiled.


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