BBVFC ambulance service fee to increase in coming year

Residents of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company’s ambulance district — encompassing the towns of Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island, and the private Sea Colony community — can expect to see an increase in the ambulance service fee charged to them by those entities for the coming year.

At their Nov. 15 meeting, the Bethany Beach Town Council approved the increase, from $44 per property to $53 per property, which is assessed as part of the Town’s tax billing and then paid to the ambulance service by the Town. In exchange for that fee, property owners receive ambulance service for that property at no additional cost, while others may be billed at the service’s full per-incident rate.

Mayor Tony McClenny noted that the increase was due, at least in part, to the purchase of a new, third ambulance for the service, and had come after many questions and much discussion of the ambulance service’s initially proposed rate increase, which had subsequently been reduced to the $53 amount.

“It’s still the largest increase we’ve received, but I believe that, based on the information we received, it is justifiable,” McClenny said.

Councilman Lew Killmer aimed to put the increase in perspective. “That’s less than a dollar a month increase to provide protection to our community year-round, and to provide an outstanding service,” he said.

Councilwoman Margaret Young joined in the praise for the service, which took over the coastal service area from the Millville Volunteer Fire Company in 2009, after the MVFC said it would be discontinuing its service there. Having used the service twice in the last year, she said, “These guys are fantastic, and they certainly need the third ambulance.”

While all four communities will need to approve the increase, they are expected to do so, and Vice-Mayor Jack Gordon said their representatives had already agreed in principle to all four paying the new rate.

The Bethany council voted unanimously to approve the increase.

Also on Nov. 15, the council unanimously approved a change to language in the guidelines regarding town committees and how town staff can serve upon them. Killmer explained that McClenny had noticed a conflict between the language in the committee guidelines and the specific guidelines for the Non-Residential Design Review Committee (DRC), which Killmer heads.

Killmer said the DRC’s makeup had included the Town’s building inspector as a voting member, on the logic that the DRC has to vote to approve applications before it and that the building inspector would also need to approve them.

With that basis, Killmer said he proposed changing the town’s committee guidelines to permit town staff to serve as voting committee members on committees that are not legislatively mandated (those other than the planning commission and board of adjustment) if the staff members are nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council, with the mayor given discretion as to whether or not the staff member would be a voting member of a given committee.

Also on Nov. 15:

• Killmer presented the Town’s new zoning map, reflecting the changes involved in creating the CL-1 Commercial Lodging zone. The council had previously voted to approve the changes and the map.

• The council voted unanimously to approve using the existing town council protocol manual for the new legislative year.

• The council unanimously approved committee appointments recommended by committee chairpersons and made by the mayor. The appointments include 2013 council candidates Carol Seal Brigleb and Jane North to the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee, as well as members of the existing volunteer-run 4th of July Parade organizing group to the newly formed town committee that is taking over the event. In approving the parade committee appointments, the council also approved adding more than the existing limit of nine committee members on any one committee to that committee, to keep the existing group in place.

• The council voted unanimously to cancel its December meeting, though McClenny said “if something arises that requires attention,” the council would still meet.