Ocean View discusses budget, emergency services

Earlier this week, the Town of Ocean View reviewed Draft 3 of the Town’s Operating & Capital Budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which reflected changes made following a council budget workshop.

In Draft 3 for the Capital Budget, the budget for computer upgrades was increased to $27,000; the budget for security enhancements for the second floor was reduced to $30,000; computer upgrades for the Ocean View Police Department for a new file server were removed because it has been worked into this year’s budget; and the vehicle budget for the department was increased to $54,000.

Town Manager Dianne Vogel said the Delaware State Pension rate for the employer cost was updated to reflect a reduction based on information the Town received from the Pension Office.

“Dominion Dental rates were received and have increased from 2 percent to 3.4 percent, based on the actual renewal rates,” she said.

She noted that the State would be voting on its group health insurance plan March 20.

“It doesn’t look good. Hopefully, our 15 percent rate that we’ve included in the budget will cover the costs, but their claims rate is much greater than what they anticipated.”

Vogel said that, depending on how that vote goes, the Town may hold a workshop on March 24 at 6 p.m. at town hall to address the related change in the draft budget. The Town must adopt the budget no later than April 30.

Millville Volunteer Fire Company Fire Chief Doug Scott spoke to the council at the budget meeting, requesting a grant for $90,000 for the company.

“It’s always a good feeling to come in amongst friends and in a town so supportive of the fire department,” said Scott, thanking the council for their time.

Scott said the MVFC has 80 active members, and in 2014 handled 365 fire/rescue calls, as well as 1,721 emergency medical calls, “making us one of the busiest fire departments in the county.”

Of those, 57 fire/rescues calls and 277 EMS calls were from those inside the town of Ocean View, making up 13.6 percent of the department’s total call volume in 2014.

Scott said the department annually participates in Town events such as Caroling in the Park and Homecoming, and has a close working relationship with the Ocean View Police Department.

The $90,000 grant request would help the department purchase several significant operational technology items — 18 portable radios and six laptop computers.

Scott said the items would replace older models, and are aimed at improving “firefighter safety and the service we provide to the town of Ocean View.”

Councilman Bob Lawless praised the fire company, saying, “I think the money we provide to Millville Volunteer Fire Company is probably one of the best things we do all year. You guys do a great job, and I think we should all applaud your service.”

The council will vote at their April 14 meeting as to whether or not to approve the grant request from the Town’s Emergency Services Enhancement Fund.

In other Town news:

• The Town received a $10,000 Economic Development & Infrastructure Grant from Sussex County Council. The funds must be used by June 30, 2015. Vogel said possible Town initiatives discussed with and verbally approved by Sussex County Economic Development Director Melody Booker-Wilkins were picnic tables for the park pavilion, a street clock, pathway lighting at the north end of John West Park, and banners for light poles along Route 26.

The council voted unanimously to give Vogel the leeway to spend the funds by that date, and meet the grant requirements.

• Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said his department is working on a joint initiative centered on bicycle and pedestrian safety, specifically with all the construction along Route 26. He said an event will be held in late spring or early summer.

• The council thanked the Town’s Public Works Department and Police Department for their hard work plowing the Town’s roads during the three recent snowstorms.

• Patrolman Justin Hopkins was recognized at the Valor Awards last month as Ocean View’s Police Officer of the Year.