We need to get Dewey on even financial keel
Unfortunately, Dewey Beach Town Manager Marc Appelbaum does not have a magic financial wand. Your Sept. 3 editorial praising him for taming a "looming deficit" and finishing the budget year with a surplus is off the mark. His October 2012 estimate of a $300,000 deficit for the fiscal year was a guess estimate of what could occur should the revenue and expenditure picture not improve.
In the interim, Marc has made some significant reductions in town expenditures, but the major factor contributing to the turnaround in Dewey’s finances has been the unexpected rapid and significant increase in the receipts from the transfer taxes associated with the upturn in sales of properties. In spite of the immediate relief from the pressure on finances, however, Dewey's financial needs cannot be ignored going into the future. We have pressing needs to upgrade the Town Hall physical plant as well as to overhaul completely the information and communications technology the town utilizes for its operations. The same holds for the Lifesaving Station that the town uses to house the lifesaving personnel as well as provide the space for town meetings.
There are indications that the town may need to provide town employees with salary increases if we are to remain competitive with surrounding communities. As the town attempts to adopt a number of needed reforms, it may well continue to face significant legal fees to respond to legal challenges. To the extent that town storm drains may be contributing to some of the bayside flooding, the town may have to expend significant amounts of money to repair and maintain those systems.
Finally, over the past few years, the town has reduced its reserve fund by about a half million dollars for infrastructure needs. That fund needs to be replenished..
Dewey Beach will experience a spike in revenues associated with the sale of Ruddertowne condominium planned for Phase 2 of the project, but the town will need additional revenues if it is to achieve long-term financial sustainability.
Marc appears to recognize that fact.
The town cannot persist on a regime of cost reductions. He also seems to recognize that the principle of fair share in assigning burden of paying for town operations dictates that the in-town major businesses should contribute more to the funding to the town.
I have great respect for his intellect, management talent and his hard work, but he is no miracle worker. He and town council will need a lot of cooperation and good luck to get Dewey on an even financial keel.
I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners and with the town manager in resolving the town’ financial problems of the future.
commissioner, Town of Dewey Beach