Ocean View begins reviewing draft budget for 2017

The Town of Ocean View this week held its first workshop to review the proposed operating budget for the 2017 fiscal year and five-year Capital Improvements Program.

At the Jan. 26 workshop, Town Manger Dianne Vogel noted the proposed budget for personnel includes a pool of 2 percent of total department salaries for compensation increases that has been rolled forward from the prior year’s budget; overtime is projected at 10 percent for first-responders and 3 percent for other staff; one additional full-time police officer; and the compensated seasonal volunteers who provide seven-days-a-week front-desk coverage from Memorial Day to Labor Day for the Public Safety Department.

She also noted that, while there are increases for health-care coverage, dental coverage and life insurance, as well as workers’ compensation insurance, those numbers are currently an estimate.

In the 2017 fiscal year, a full assessment of all tax parcels will be completed, at an estimated cost of $100,000.

Draft capital improvement projects for the upcoming budget include making improvements to John West Park, and additional holiday décor for the municipal building and town hall, as well as continuing to work with the Delaware Department of Transportation on the Transportation Enhancement & Pedestrian Improvement Program, to provide a network of sidewalks throughout the town.

Finance Director Lee Brubaker told the council that he guaranteed the numbers will change, as they are in the beginning stages of drafting the budget. He reminded the council that it is important to wean off using transfer tax revenue, as it is not a reliable revenue source.

“It is my belief that the day-to-day operating revenues of the Town — property tax, building permits, all the other things — ought to pay for our day-to-day operating costs,” he said. “Transfer taxes, they are set aside to be used for long-term capital projects.

“Prior councils have agreed that we should reduce our usage of transfer taxes for operations by $25,000 a year.”

Mayor Walter Curran asked if $25,000 per year was enough to set aside for capital projects.

“That is the looming mountain that’s coming in front of us,” he said. “It’s something to think about.”

Brubaker said drainage is also a big item to address as, in 2007, the town engineer reviewed the roads in the town and prioritized drainage projects. He noted that there are drainage projects in the amount of $1,024,000 that are not yet provided for in the draft budget.

Curran said the drainage work in Avon Park will be completed this year, which he noted is some progress. Public Works Director Charles McMullen said Country Village’s Phase I project can now move forward, after receiving the last easement from a property owner.

“We’re going to start getting that ready for bid,” he said.

Tuesday night’s workshop was the first of many. The Town must adopt the budget no later than April 30. Copies of the draft are available by visiting the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building.