Cape Gazette

Rehoboth begins budget talks

By Ryan Mavity | Feb 26, 2014
Photo by: File The Rehoboth Beach commissioners begin talks on the 2014-15 city budget. The $17 million budget is expected to have few changes and contains no tax or parking rate increases.

Rehoboth Beach — Laptops for police officers, new trash and street sweeping equipment and someone to direct the city website are among the new items in Rehoboth Beach's $17 million 2014-15 city budget.

The first draft was prepared by recently retired City Manager Greg Ferrese, and Mayor Sam Cooper said he does not foresee any significant changes.

Commissioner Bill Sargent said new City Manager Sharon Lynn was allowed to put her own stamp on the budget, but she went with what Ferrese had drafted because it was a good budget.

No parking fee or property tax increases are proposed for the coming year. Parking meter revenue is projected at $2.25 million, a slight increase from the $2.1 million projected to come in this year. After two straight years of better-than-expected home sales, there is a slight uptick in projected transfer tax to $1.3 million. For the past few years, the city has typically budgeted about $1 million for transfer tax revenue.

The city’s largest overall expense is for employee salaries, which make up about 47 percent of the city’s expenses.

Other large expenses include $734,000 in debt service and $1.9 million in engineering costs for the upcoming wastewater outfall project, which Cooper said might not be built until 2015 or even 2016. City officials have been waiting for a record of decision on a required environmental impact statement, which must be approved before the city can receive state funding for the estimated $30 million project.

The budget also includes a $1.6 million capital improvement program, highlighted by $245,000 for schematic drawings of a new City Hall complex. Capital improvement expenses also include $47,000 for laptops for police vehicles, $128,000 for a new trash truck, $172,000 for a new street sweeper and $100,000 to paint city fire hydrants.

The biggest change to the budget figures to be $40,000 towards the hiring of a permanent city webmaster. Commissioner Stan Mills, chairman of the communications committee, recommended adding the position as a way to free some duties from city secretary Ann Womack. Details of the position will be worked out, but Cooper said someone needs to manage the website.

Sargent, chairman of the streets and transportation committee, said the committee will discuss changes to the scooter-parking program, but he does not anticipate any significant changes and the scooter parking permit fee will remain $40.

The commissioners will resume discussion of the budget at their Friday, Feb. 21 meeting.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Gregg W Rosner | Feb 26, 2014 09:34

The leadership in Rehoboth Beach is simply in denial with the proposed ocean outfall. Their Y 2014-5 budget requirements, should inclusively request adequate funding for daily fines in non-compliance of a mandated court order to remove the wastewater outfall from the Inland Bays as of Dec. 31 2014. Also, yet undetermined fees for additional legal remediations and numerous delays with court appeals.

The decision to permit this request sits on the desk of  DNREC Secretary O'Mara. To sign his name, the Secretary will violate important Delaware administrative laws, protective of the clean waters and ocean habitat. There are a myriad of ways to request additional EPA funding alternatives to enhance the standards of community health, without disposing of wastewater in our coastal zone.

I'm hopeful, that Governor Markell and the legislators will in the upcoming announcement for the Delaware Clean Water Initiative, connect the values of economic vitality and healthy waterways.  This statewide initiative should provide multiplier benefits for the future of all municipalities.


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