By Rachel Lord

The Delmar Commission (Delmar, Md.) election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Polls will be located in the council chambers at Town Hall (100 S. Pennsylvania Avenue). Voter registration closes today (Thursday) at 4:30 p.m.

There are two commission seats up for election, one currently held by Torlondo Tucker, who opted not to run for another term, and one previously held by Donald Scholl, who resigned as of Aug. 1. The three residents running for these seats are Faith Higbee, Corey Shaffer, and Jacob Boothe. Two filed to run for mayor of Delmar (Md.): incumbent Mayor Karen Wells and Benjamin Jorden.

During last Monday’s Delmar Commission meeting, a resolution was passed to rescind the previous attempt to change wording on the Town Charter in section DC7-4. Since a referendum was needed to add in an item B to this section, the change never went into effect; now, as the Delmar Council (Del.) has agreed to be bound by the bargaining process along with Delmar, MD, the council adopted a resolution to cancel out the previous change, meaning that the charter will not change, and no vote is needed.

Mayor Wells gave an update on the negotiations between the town and the police department and summarized actions that have been taken so far. The miscommunication regarding the 2017 pay scale as well as the initial proposed pay scale from the town did not need further discussion, she said, as the 2017 incident was resolved, and the proposal was rejected.

Body cameras have been approved for purchase, and Police Chief Ivan Barkley has been authorized to hire two new officers in addition to filling the two current vacancies. The marketing materials that the department has, however, are not current, according to Wells. The town is working with the department to update his employment packet to properly recruit, and new recruits will be channeled through an outside agency, with ultimate hiring decisions made by the chief. They will also be updating the website, which has not seen major changes in at least six years, according to the mayor.

A resident in attendance was disappointed to hear that the police are not actively recruiting as this process takes place and suggested they do so, perhaps with the promise that the current salary will change, to show the officers that they are committed to fixing the current burden of coverage.

Also approved are $3,000 signing bonuses for new officers (half paid after completing both Maryland and Delaware Police Academies and half after completing field training). Another bonus of $1,000 is approved for any current officers able to make a referral who successfully completes both academies (half paid after satisfying all pre-employment requirements and acceptance of conditional hire and half upon completion of both academies). These bonuses are in addition to grant funds that the chief has been approved for.

“Maryland recently presented a last and final offer in reply to the original denial of the pay scale,” Wells said. “We proposed chief’s scale with modifications. The officers would be placed in steps according to time in their rank rather than total overall years of service with the town. This formula was discussed during meetings with the police department for better understanding. The scale is now in the hands of representation for the officers for consideration. The Delaware council agreed voluntarily to support MD’s efforts in achieving the most recent proposal.

“In conclusion, mayor and town manager have had several meetings with chief and some senior officers to gain a greater understanding of what their needs were. We have worked on building a better relationship and we are hopeful that the lines of communication between town hall and the police department will continue to remain open,” Wells said

Mayor Wells and Town Manager Sara Bynum-King assured the residents in attendance that they believed the final details to be negotiated between the town and police could be resolved by the end of the month, as long as the representatives were able to meet.

In the meantime, the Delmar Police Department has one new recruit in the academy currently set to graduate in December.