It remains unclear whether the Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water Authority will be forced to honor the state’s Freedom of Information Act and release its salaries to Wyoming Town Councilwoman Georgette Williams.


It remains unclear whether the Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water Authority will be forced to honor the state’s Freedom of Information Act and release its salaries to Wyoming Town Councilwoman Georgette Williams.

The Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water Authority has resisted releasing the salaries to Williams for about a year, claiming it was not a public body subject to FOIA.

In response, the last Delaware General Assembly passed legislation signed by Gov. Jack Markell specifically stating that CWSWA was a public body subject to the First State’s Freedom of Information Act request.

CWSWA still resisted. Williams sought help from the Delaware Department of Justice and Attorney General Beau Biden filed suit in Kent County Superior Court to compel the Camden-Wyoming authority to release the documents.

The next stop on this dramatic timeline was a hearing held this morning at Kent County Superior Court. There, the Delaware Department of Justice made its case as to why the Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water Authority was not complying with the law and why they should and must, Biden said.

Meanwhile, officials from the towns of Camden and Wyoming have expressed concern about CWSWA’s ongoing reluctance to comply with FOIA.

Camden Mayor Richard E. Maly pointed to the CWSWA’s September and October agendas as proof that it is sending mixed signals. Those documents state that anyone wishing to “review the documentation relating to the consent agenda at the CWSWA office … may request copies in pursuant to Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act …”

“You’re either subject to FOIA or not,” Maly said. “If you’re spending rate payer funds for an attorney to fight FOIA, why are they recognizing FOIA on their agenda?

“You can’t just pick and choose the things you want to share and the things you don’t want to share,” he said.

Calls to Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water Authority Superintendent Harold L. Scott Sr. and Chairman Mark M. Dyer Sr. were referred to attorney Mary Sherlock of the Weber Gallagher law firm in Dover.

“The case is scheduled for a scheduling conference with the judge's case manager … Wednesday at 9 a.m. at which time we will probably establish a briefing schedule and date for oral argument if the Judge wishes to hear oral argument,” Sherlock wrote in an email. “That is the status of the case. Other than that I have no further response.”

But Wyoming Mayor Frankie Dale Rife hopes that Kent County Superior Court will render a decision sooner rather than later.

“A lot of us do not agree with state law but we have to follow it,” she said. “Camden and Wyoming are the parents of the Camden-Wyoming Sewer & Water authority and we just want to do what’s best for the people of these towns.

“They have said to me in the past, ‘Why do you want to know? Who wants to know?’ she added. “It doesn’t matter who wants to know it. It’s the Freedom of Information Act and we have to honor it.”

Rife understands the reluctance to release salaries. But ratepayers want to know why their rates are so high and one of the biggest expense in any budget is salaries, she said.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t want their salaries out there. But if you work for the state or for the military, your salaries are public information. I’m not saying they’re overpaid. Nobody knows. It’s a place to start.”

That was precisely the reasoning of Williams, who is the treasurer for Wyoming Town Council, in filing and re-filing her FOIA request, she said.

“I [also] am Kent County controller and I know your biggest expense is employee salaries and benefits,” Williams said. “They won’t answer questions, which makes it appear to be much worse.”