(Oct. 19, 2018) The abrupt resignation last week of Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman wasn’t as simple as the “time to move on” scenario initially outlined in Dorman’s announcement.
Statements released by Dorman and the Town Council this week revealed a strong disagreement between the mayor and council about how the town should operate.
Dorman on Monday morning released a statement regarding his resignation last Tuesday.
The statement follows:
“In July the town manager and one of the councilwomen (he later amended the statement to say “the council” instead of “one of the councilwomen”) disagreed with me on some of my tactics to draw new business to Snow Hill. Since then, I’ve become a figurehead only as the mayor, with no authority anymore. I then decided that I would resign [effective] Oct. 31, 2018. I have aggressively sought to sell my residence and I am fortunate to have a buyer. I will be moving in November.
“I sincerely hope that the new mayor will continue to encourage new businesses and make Snow Hill a destination on the Pocomoke River.”
The council on Monday afternoon emailed a response in the form of a letter to the editor signed by Councilwoman Alison Cook, Councilwoman Jenny Hall, and Councilwoman LaToya Purnell.
“We, the Town Council of Snow Hill, wish to make a public statement that will hopefully dispel the negative rumors that are being discussed regarding the Mayor, Town Council and Staff.
“Throughout Mayor Charlie Dorman’s administration, the Town Council had faith that he was making decisions that were in the best interest of the town and its citizens and that he was adhering to the regulations and guidelines of the Town Code.
“We allowed and supported Mayor Dorman in making decisions to encourage business growth and economic development. We believed that what he told us was factual and that he was honest. However, it came to light several months ago that there had been actions by the Mayor that we believed to be in violation of the duties of the Mayor as specified in the Town Charter.
“The Snow Hill Charter specifies the powers and duties of the Mayor and the Town Council. The Town Council passes Ordinances for the good government of the town and has specific powers of governing the town, such as acquiring property, maintaining a police force, zoning, and expending municipal funds and managing the finances of the Town. The Council makes the laws for this municipality. Mayor Dorman has proclaimed that the Council took away his power. This is false. As stated herein, the position of Mayor never had the authority for the decisions he made.
“The Charter continues to state that the Mayor shall see that all Ordinances are faithfully executed and shall be the chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the town government. Additionally, he/she appoints and removes department heads with the majority approval of the Council; reports recommendations to the Council; supervises the financial administration of the government; and may veto or vote to break a tie.
“Many decisions were made by the Mayor that the Council was unaware of. Some examples:
“• An agreement was entered with a local business owner that required them to perform certain renovations to a building in exchange for being granted building ownership. As part of the agreement, certain obligations had to be met prior to opening the business, some of which being safety-related or mandated by federal and state law. Mayor Dorman directed staff to ignore the Code and laws, ignore the memorandum of agreement, and allow this business to open, fully aware it was in violation. Additionally, Mayor Dorman covered some of the repair costs that the agreement stated were to be paid by the business owner.
“• A resident requested a reduction in the cost of an EDU for water/sewer connection to a rental property and the Council denied the request. Later, Mayor Dorman directed the Code Enforcement Officer to reduce the amount of the EDU by 50% without the knowledge or approval of the Council.
“In June 2018 Town Manager Kelly Pruitt submitted her notice to retire. During discussions where we requested she reconsider, many issues were brought to the forefront that made us further investigate the activities and decisions made by the Mayor. Town staff members had met with the Mrs. Pruitt regarding a potential hostile work environment, stating they were made to perform duties at the Mayor’s direction that they believed to be in direct violation of the Code. Mrs. Pruitt had decided to retire solely because of the issues with the Mayor. Several other employees were seeking to leave employment because of the hostile environment and being put into situations where they felt uncomfortable.
“When the Council addressed these issues with Mayor Dorman, he apologized for overstepping his authority and explained he would work to rebuild our trust. He apologized to the Town Manager and the staff. At the end of the meeting there was a mutual understanding that everyone would move forward in a positive, inclusive manner.
“Since that meeting there has been a lot of community gossip where assumptions and untruths are being disseminated. Mayor Dorman has continually made negative comments about the Council and town staff in an attempt to gain public sympathy. He has championed to make the Council and Town Manager look bad in the public eye. As a result, community members and business owners have stated that they feel a divide between themselves and town government. The perceived ‘divide’ stops today.
“Mayor Dorman announced at the October 9th town meeting that he was resigning with no advance notice to or discussion with the Council. The community stated they were told it was because he believed he had lost his ‘power.’ The truth is that he never lost any power. He made decisions and promises that were the responsibility of the Council.
“The Council has cohesively come together and discovered that our trust and belief in Mayor Dorman’s decision-making was violated and we found it necessary to hold the Mayor accountable. We, as Council, support all local businesses and are united in continuing to bring more to Snow Hill. However, we feel that the Code should be adhered to, to be fair and equal to all.
“We have spoken with former Mayor Stephen Mathews and requested that he take over the position of Mayor until the next election. We feel this decision is in the best interest of residents and business owners in Snow Hill, as Mr. Mathews served as Mayor for 14 years and can easily take over the position. Mr. Mathews has accepted our request and will be sworn in on November 1, 2018.”