jim ireton

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Mayor Jim Ireton has decided to reopen the search to fill the Salisbury’s City Administrtor’s job now occupied by Tom Stevenson on an interim basis.

Council President Jake Day said yesterday that there was no consensus on the council to conduct interviews after Ireton submitted the names of Stevenson and former assistant administrator Lore’ Chambers.

Ireton dismissed Chambers after a public exchange.

He said he nominated her along with Stevenson because he promised he would do so with the departure of longtime City Administrator John Pick.

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - Many city employees in Salisbury haven't had a raise in six years, but a new analysis shows the cost of benefits is substantially increasing city spending.

An analysis by The Daily Times shows spending on salaries, benefits and employee costs have jumped 52 percent in the past decade, from $17.4 million in 2004 to $26.6 million.

There hasn't been a hiring spree, though. The city added just 45 staff members over the past 10 years, an increase of 13 percent.

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Former Assistant City Administrator Dr. Lore’ Chambers has filed suit for $750-thousand against the city of Salisbury and Mayor Jim Ireton after being fired from her job in July.

The lawsuit alleges that Ireton verbally berated her when she expressed interest the city administrator job.

WBOC reports that Chambers claims that the Mayor would not let up physically stalking her, yelling at her and otherwise trying to intimidate her in a public setting.

Don Rush

In what some are calling “a house cleaning” Mayor Jim Ireton has moved to replace three members of the Housing Board that voted to overturn a city order that would have forced the owners of the old Salisbury Mall property to remove a hill-size pile of rubble.

Ireton did not like the September 16th Mall decision.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that one of the ousted board members called the move “a hostile takeover.”

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Mayor Jim Ireton has given the Salisbury the city council a proposal to increase wages.

Mayor Ireton says it's about getting to the average of what everybody who does these positions throughout the mid-Atlantic region is making."

In August the Salisbury Daily Times reported that 80 percent of Salisbury's nearly 4,000 city employees earn less than the midpoint of their pay ranges.

This comes after his office found more than a million dollars in savings, 700,000 of which will be allocated to the wage increases.

Don Rush

It can stay.

That’s the unanimous vote from a three member city panel for the 20-foot tall pile of crushed concrete at the old Salisbury Mall property.

But the House Board of Adjustments and Appeals said that the owners of the vacant lot must meet with police city housing officials and neighbors within 45 days to deal with their concerns.

1 and a half acre pile is primarily made up of crushed concrete left over from the 2008 demolition of the Civic Avenue mall.

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Mayor Jim Ireton has called for the removal of the pile of rubble left behind by the 2008 demolition of the old Salisbury Mall.

Ireton said Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance has gotten 44 complaints ranging from tall grass and suspicious people to a drunken driver.

Salisbury Mall Associates LLC has asked the Housing Board of Adjustments and Appeals the pile be allowed to remain indefinitely.

A Monday hearing by the Board was postponed because of a scheduling conflict.

Don Rush

The new adult-theme store in  Salisbury is taking its case to the public.

Outside the shop on North Salisbury Boulevard there are two small signs with red letters against a yellow background.

One reads, “Freedom of Speech” and the other “It’s Not Yours to Take.”

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the city will not approve the sign outside reading “Red Light District” unless the store qualifies as an adult retail outlet.

But, if it does, it is within 1-thousand feet of homes and a house of worship…which would keep it from opening.

Don Rush

Mayor Jim Ireton says he expects the issue a sign for a lingerie store will be decided in court.

The conflict began when the store applied to put up a sign reading “Red Light District”.

It was not granted and eventually the store put up a sign anyway including the phrase “Romantic Superstore” without notifying the city.

The Mayor is asking for projected sales, accounting information and a detailed inventory of the store’s merchandise.

He wants to ensure that it is not an adult retail store.

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There’s a new sign out along Route 13 in Salisbury.

It reads “Red Light District, Romantic Superstore.”

And its display windows feature mannequins dressed in lingerie.

It’s part of the ongoing battle between the owner of the lingerie store and Mayor Jim Ireton just what kind of sign will be allowed – and the nature of the store itself.

Ireton says the store owner did not get the needed permission from the city for the sign.

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The President of the Wicomico County NAACP is demanding an explanation from Mayor Jim Ireton for his dismissal of Lore’ Chambers.

She had been assistant city administrator for Salisbury for the last 5 years.

President Mary Ashanti said her organization was “extremely disappointed and dismayed” by the Mayor’s actions.

When asked by the Salisbury Daily Times as to whether Ashanti considered the firing an act of discrimination she replied that given Chambers is African American it is “a matter of protocol.”

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There will be no Red Light District sign hanging in Salisbury.

Instead, the store on North Salisbury Boulevard will get be called “Red Light Lingerie.”

The change in name follows the city’s rejection of Red Light District because  Mayor Jim Ireton says, it has too much of a negative connotation.

He says that’s especially the case since the city has tried to clean up the area that was the location for the infamous Thrift Travel Inn that had problems with prostitution.

The store sits across the street.

lauramitchell.org

The firing of assistant city administrator Lore’ Chambers by Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton may have violated the city charter.

That’s the conclusion of Council Vice President Laura Mitchell who is normally an ally of the mayor.

She cited a specific provision that lays out the protocol for terminating rank-and-file employees.

She told the Salisbury Daily Times that either an employee is a department head who serves at the advice and consent of the council or they are subject to a department head.

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Some mixed results in the crime report for Salisbury.

In the Safe Streets Zone newsletter midway through the year violent crimes have declined slightly.

Aggravated assaults are down from 128 last year to 101 this year.

Rapes are also down from 11 last year to 7 this year while robberies edged down from 57 to 55.

The figures are only from Salisbury police and the Wicomico County sheriff’s Office.

That means the first murder that took place on Patrick Street is not counted because it was handled by state police.

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Lore’ Chambers, who had served as assistant city administrator in Salisbury since 2008, has been fired by Mayor Jim Ireton.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that she confirmed her dismissal but declined further comment including what options she might take.

The paper reports that Ireton said state law precludes him from talking about personnel matters but emphasized that he took action according to the city codes and charter.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today the federal government cannot discriminate against married same-sex couples. On his way back from the Maryland Association of Counties meeting, Mayor Jim Ireton told WSCL this decision was part of extending rights to all people.  Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush:

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Even as longtime Salisbury City Administrator John Pick prepares to depart this week Mayor Jim Ireton says he wants to add a new position directly under the administrator.

It would be the second such position and would provide a salary of between $61-thousand to $98-thousand.     

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that a memo signed by top city departments including the police and fire chiefs said the additional position is needed because of technological advances as well as increasing mandates and overall growth of the government.  

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Mayor Jim Ireton has delivered a plan to the Salisbury City Council for the future of the Linens of the Week property dividing it up into five home lots and donating them to an affordable housing developer.

The plan would change the zoning classification for the property and some surround lots to residential.

The proposal is expected to go before the Planning and zoning Commission on Thursday.

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The Salisbury will be giving skateboarders a park of their own.

The City Council reversed a previous decision and voted this week to accept a $262-thousand grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources awarded the previous summer.

But the skateboarders will have to do without certain amenities such as drinking water and a permanent restroom.

Instead, there will be a portable toilet with a place for hand washing.

Don Rush

The Salisbury City Council last night unanimously approved a $53 million budget that will raise property taxes for the first time in years.

The rate will go from $8.19 to $8.84 per $1000 of assessed property value.

The increase represents the revenue problem faced by Salisbury in the face of an 8 percent drop in the town’s property tax base due to the Great Recession.

There is a 2 percent pay raise for city employees and as well as money to maintain the pay increases for the police department.

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The Salisbury City Council is set to hold a final hearing tonight on the city’s $53 million budget that could include the town’s first property tax rate hike in years.

More than half of the nearly 11-thousand property owners would see an increase in their tax bills while the rest could see a slight decrease.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the rate will jump by 65 cents per $1-thousand of assessed property value just to keep the revenue from the property tax the same in the face of declining property values resulting from the Great Recession.

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Mayor Jim Ireton gave a strong introduction to the first Gubernatorial team of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman for next year’s election.

But the Salisbury Daily Times reports a blog has floated the idea of Ireton joining another potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate State Attorney General Doug Gansler.

The paper reports that Ireton said that he has been getting some curious callers.

But the Salisbury Daily Times reports that Ireton did not give any hints on his future when asked about the chances of joining a Gansler ticket.

Don Rush

The Salisbury City Council is looking to cutback a key development fee in Mayor Jim Ireton’s proposal for revitalizing downtown.

Ireton’s plan would set aside up to 317 credits for water and sewer connection fees.

But last night Council President Jake Day says he wants to make around 100 credits available for downtown projects leaving the rest for employers to bring in high paying jobs.

These fees are called equivalent dwelling units or EDU’s and run around $33-hundred each.

msa.maryland.gov

John Pick has been a regular fixture at Salisbury City Council meeting for the last 18 years as City Administrator.

But, at the age 62 he announced that is leaving his Eastern Shore job effective June 28th for the city manager position in Northglenn, Colorado.

Financially, it is a step up from his current pay of $96-thousand to $133-thousand.

Pick said that he was moving to be closer to his sons to assume broader responsibilities and to take advantage of the retirement benefits from the city that he has earned over the years.

salisbury.edu

It’s the largest elevated water tower in Salisbury.

In fact it’s four times higher than any other.

And the structure was unveiled in a ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by Salisbury University President Janet Dudely-Eshbach yesterday.

The 130-foot-tall Milford Street structure displays the University logo that consists of a silhouette of a seagull above the Salisbury University name in maroon.

The University paid $16-thousand for the paint and maintenance.

Don Rush

A new study calls creating a utility to raise more than $25 million over a ten year period to pay for maintaining and upgrading the stormwater drainage system in Salisbury.

The city council is set to hear a presentation by University of Maryland researchers.

Instead of property owners footing the bill the proposal would provide for a dedicated funding source to ensure that badly needed projects no longer experience delays in getting financing.

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Salisbury finally has a permanent Fire Chief.

Richard Hoppes has been promoted from acting to the permanent fire chief after having lost two previous bids for the top spot.

In 2009 he south the job after the retirement of former fire Chief David See and again in 2012 when See’s permanent replacement quit.

At the time, the City Council majority rejected Hoppes despite Mayor Jim Ireton’s backing.

Instead, they agreed to allow him to continue on in an acting position.

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Salisbury

Mayor Jim Ireton has proposed a property tax hike…in his latest $53 million budget for the city of Salisbury.

And, the new Council President Jake Day called it “fiscally appropriate.”

Ireton is seeking $8.84 per $1000 of assessed property value.

Last year, former Council President Terry Cohen rejected the Mayor’s proposal for a hike of $8.34 cents.

The increase comes in the face of one of the most dramatic plunges in property values of 8 percent and is needed just to maintain the amount revenue the city has been receiving.

123rf.com

It’s Election Day in Salisbury.

Topping the list is that of the race for Mayor where incumbent Jim Ireton is facing off against Delmarva blogger Joe Albero.

In the money race Ireton comes out ahead with a commanding lead of over $10-thousand to $71-hundred for Albero.

At one time, Albero had been supportive of Ireton.

Meanwhile, in District 2 two term incumbent Council Vice President Debbie Campbell is being challenged by urban planner Jake Day…who overwhelmed her in the primary with over 800 votes around 300.

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Mayoral and city council candidates  met last night for the last of their debates on the campus of Salisbury University as they face off in next week’s election.

In the most contentious race Mayor Jim Ireton was pressed about when he planned to send up a name to fill the long vacant position of Fire Chief.

The Mayor responded that he would do so when “…it was ready to go.”

Meanwhile, challenger Joe Albero is a local blogger who has been sharply critical of the Salisbury Zoo.

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