The South Bethany Police Department needs to up its pay scale if it wants to remain competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, said Police Chief Troy Crowson. So the town council approved a $13,031 budget amendment to increase all salaries.
Starting salaries for the two lowest jobs on the totem pole will increase by more than $5,000. For instance, a new patrolman would get a raise from $36,248 to $41,324. PFCs’ pay will increase from $38,845 to $44,475.
But the other five ranks will only increase by several hundred dollars each, based on the formula used to create pay scales.
The Sept. 9 vote is retroactive for all of September.
South Bethany isn’t facing a crisis right now, but it is hovering around the bottom of salaries for the surrounding nine towns. September’s adjustment moves them just below the average. They want to prevent good officers from leaving for another town with better pay.
Crowson still has the flexibility to negotiate starting positions with new hires. Employee promotions are based on performance, training and other assessments.
With this change, workman’s compensation rates and pensions will also eventually increase, Town Manager Mel Cusick had said in August.
House height created equal
House height should be measured equally across town, said the committee tasked with investigating the issue. As a result, the town council this week passed the first reading of Ordinance 184-16, regarding height.
The ordinance would allow people to measure their house height from the center of the road or from base flood elevation (BFE), whichever they prefer, for their own benefit.
The goal is consistence, said Councilwoman Sue Callaway, “So no matter the zone you live in, everyone has the opportunity to build a 33-foot structure, which is a reasonable living space for three living levels,” if they so choose.
Currently, most houses can be 32 feet, measured from the center of the road. But in May, the council approved 33 feet of height for some ocean-side houses, measured from BFE. Houses in VE flood zone can be 33 feet above BFE (or 35 feet above BFE when 2 feet of freeboard are included), but no higher than 48 feet NAVD.
The change should allow home owners enough room to build the standard 8-foot ceilings on each floor, despite variations in road elevation.
In June, the Ad-hoc Base Flood Elevation Committee decided that all houses should get similar treatment, especially as the BFE has increased by 1 foot in most of South Bethany’s flood insurance rate maps.
The ordinance states that that all flood zones have 33 feet to build the structure, above the higher of BFE or the street. Two additional feet of freeboard are still encouraged.
Generally, the lower the road, the higher the house. Some houses would be higher than others, but everyone would have about 33 feet of living space.
Callaway said the Town has “come a long way” in understanding BFE and flood zones.
In other South Bethany news:
• Cat Hill is a bumpier place, as speed humps were recently augmented to more effective heights. Mayor Pat Voveris said state Rep. Ron Gray and state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. are interested in helping to fund a three-way stop in the neighborhood. They were awaiting pricing information from the Delaware Department of Transportation at the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee meeting on Sept. 14 (after Coastal Point press time).
• Public comments have been eliminated from the end of council meetings, but the public may still speak at the beginning of meetings and before council votes on any agenda item. The town council unanimously approved the new rule of procedure.
• Anyone with mosquito complaints can contact Town Hall. The Town will ask the State to do a free pesticide spraying for mosquitos and/or larvae.
• Hurricane Hermine presented no dune damage, but an insignificant amount of sand was lost from the town’s beaches.
• Dust has been blown off the plans for Assawoman Canal Trail, as DNREC has funding to plan the next phase, heading toward South Bethany.
South Bethany’s next council workshop is Thursday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m.