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Although Dover’s history began in 1683 with an order from William Penn to lay out the town in what was then St. Jones County, it was not formally incorporated by the General Assembly until 1829. At that time the residents were to select five freeholders to serve as commissioners. Once chosen, the commissioners ere to appoint an assessor and together determine the boundaries of the town, establish tax rates and assess all property within the town. A tax collector (treasurer) was then to be appointed to handle the monies collected. In addition a town clerk was appointed to keep minutes of the commissioners’ meetings. The town’s charter also allowed it to enter into contracts and court cases, when necessary.1

Reincorporated in 1879,2 the town’s administrators were renamed the Town Council which was to consist of eight councilmen and a president. Also provided for was an alderman who functioned as a justice of the peace and executed any orders of the town council. The council itself was responsible for overseeing all roadways and utilities, making payments to satisfy the town’s obligations, hearing complaints, establishing ordinances, and appointing police officers.

In 1929, the legislature granted a new charter to Dover, designating it the City of Dover, with a mayor and an eight-member city council. New to the organization was a position of city manager to be the city’s chief administrative officer. He oversees all city employees (except the police who report directly to the mayor); prepares the annual budget; monitors the financial condition of the city; and oversees all utilities and city services. The new charter also provides for the appointment of a treasurer to handle the city’s financial dealings and a solicitor who provides legal counsel as required.3 At present, the organization continues unchanged.

The most recent addition to Dover’s city government was the creation, in 1976, of a City Planning Commission to help govern the rapid industrial and residential growth of the city.4 Dover’s population in the 1980 census was 23,512.

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1 7 D.L., ch. 207

2 16 D.L., ch 107

3 36 D.L., ch. 158

4 60 D.L., ch. 456

clm/jrf; September 14, 1988; December 30, 1988