Dover City Council unanimously voted to create a panel that will examine how city employees’ wages and benefits compare to 10 other municipalities in the state at its Monday night meeting.

Dover City Council unanimously voted to create a panel that will examine how city employees’ wages and benefits compare to 10 other municipalities in the state at its Monday night meeting.

But the homogenous composition of the Salary and Benefits Compensation Comparison Committee and the politics of how they were selected caused consternation among a few members of council at Dover City Hall.

Councilman Sean Lynn agreed with Councilman David Anderson’s assertion that the creation of the committee is vital to the financial well being of the city.

But Lynn made a motion to table the creation of the panel for two weeks so that all members of council could nominate members of the committee to ensure a fair, ideologically balanced report.

“I want to make sure that the information is collected fairly and evenhandedly,” he said. “When I look at the names of the appointees – and I’ve had the opportunity to review their resumes with the exception of Mr. Horn – one thing that strikes me is that this is a very homogenous group of individuals, meaning there are no women on this committee. There are no African Americans on this committee.

“I [also] believe this committee was hand selected, predicated on the belief that city workers make too much,” Lynn said. “If we send these five individuals out, they’re going to come back with that very same finding.”

After the meeting, Lynn said council was polarized on the issue of city salaries in that some council members believe city workers are overpaid and out of proportion as compared to other municipalities in the Diamond State.

Councilwoman Sophia R. Russell seconded Lynn’s motion. She expressed her desire to see women and minorities on the committee, which is presently composed of five white men.

But Lynn’s motion failed by a 4-4 tie.

The appointments of Richard Cook, Tim Horne, Mike Karia, Alan Machtinger and Adam Perza were recommended by the Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee chaired by Councilman William P. McGlumphy. Also on the committee are Councilman William Hare, Anderson and two residents, Dave Shevock and Dr. Robert Jones.

“The individuals proposed for membership have various backgrounds in human resources, business, law and accounting,” McGlumphy said.

Anderson, a fiscal conservative who happens to be black, offered the middle ground. He pointed out that the committee’s charge is to conduct research, not make policy.

“Maybe there should have been more sensitivity in appointing the members,” Anderson said. “But the members nonetheless seem to be qualified.”

Anderson proposed an amendment that would allow the council president to appoint two additional members to the committee.

Councilman David L. Bonar called the five appointees “a good selection.” But he commended Anderson’s “sound” amendment.

“It will give us an opportunity to go out and seek women and minority candidates who may want to serve on this committee and give us a broader array of opinions,” Bonar said.

McGlumphy said he had no problem adding two members. But he took issue with Lynn’s comments on bias and unfairness.

“First and foremost, we asked for this information in the middle of May,” McGlumphy said. “It is now the end of August. We have received information that it is very difficult to get this information by virtue of our own staff.

“The whole purpose of forming the committee was to have [it] report – without bias – simple characteristics about their pay studies and so forth,” he added.

Councilwoman Beverly C. Williams agreed with Anderson’s amendment. But she said there was no reason to question the validity of those appointed Monday night.

“There is not anybody on this committee, including his law partner, that I would consider to be unfair, unbalanced or uneven,” she said.

The motion to approve the appointments, as amended by Anderson, passed unanimously.

“Quite frankly, I know that we have asked for this information time and time again and we’ve just been put off,” Anderson said. “We’ve been told, ‘a couple more weeks.’

‘If we’re going to do it, we’re going to have get some people and do it ourselves,” he said. “It’s important for this council to send the message that we are serious about gathering the information that is vital for the fiscal well being of this city.”

City Director of Planning and Community Development Ann Marie Townshend is taking a wait-and-see approach to the committee. According to minutes for the Aug. 8 City Council meeting, Townshend pointed out that Newark is the only municipality in Delaware comparable in size to Dover. She expressed concern with comparing Dover to smaller cities, such as Milford and Harrington, which outsource some functions.

“I certainly think it’s fair to compare and see if we’re where we should be,” she said after Monday’s meeting. “It’s just a matter of comparing apples to apples.”