Millville discusses improvements, supplemental assessments

The Millville Town Council held its monthly workshop on Aug. 23, and the council discussed adding improvements to the town’s Emergency Operations Center on the second floor of the new addition to town hall. The improvements discussed include a sprinkler system, flat-screen TV and a commercial chair lift.

According to the Delaware Fire Marshal’s Office, currently only 10 people may meet in the second floor area because the area does not currently have a sprinkler system.

“The biggest hurdle is going to be the sprinkler,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie.

Councilman Richard Thomas said he spoke briefly with Tidewater Utilities, who gave him an estimate of $170,000 to bring water to the hall for sprinklers.

“I would love to see our price at $100,000,” he said.

He added that he would like to speak with the Fire Marshal to see what the town can do with the building in regards to sprinkler systems and perhaps get a public hydrant installed closer to town hall.

“I wanted to put sprinklers in it previously,” he said. “I think the sprinkler system is primary. He added that he would like sprinklers installed throughout town hall.

“To me, it’s money well spent. You spend it now, or three years from now at a 10 percent increase,” added Councilman Robert Gordon.

Botchie said that the Town would be able to pay for the improvements out of their transfer tax fund, which is approximately $2.4 million, with $1.2 million earmarked for public safety.

Botchie also reported that she had already met with one company about installing a chair lift for the second floor. Two options were reviewed: one lift that would just carry the person up the stairs on a chair and another that would lift a person in their own wheelchair up to the second floor.

Botchie said she recommended a wheelchair-carrying lift, as it would be easiest. But that would cost approximately $1,500 more than the chair lift. She said she plans to speak with at least two other companies to receive estimates from them, as well.

“I strongly feel that the new building addition must be accessible… Now is the time to explore it and to spend money on it. Now is the time to get it all right,” said Councilwoman Joan Bennett.

She also suggested that the town form an ad-hoc committee to look into how the improvements can be made and what the costs would be to the Town.

Gordon agreed, adding, “We’re the town leaders. We need to lead by example. Sometimes you have to put the safety before the cost.”

Botchie added that, with sprinklers installed in the building, the town’s fire insurance costs, which are paid out of the general fund, would be reduced.

A committee to study the issues will be appointed at the town’s monthly council meeting, on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.

The council this week also discussed the town’s ability to send out supplemental assessments for new homes settled on or after the date the Town sends out tax bills.

“Our charter states that we can actually do supplemental assessments,” explained Botchie. “It’s just like our tax billings. We assess properties through the County. We send our tax billings out.”

Botchie said she that the town’s legal counsel said the town council did not have to vote on the issue or enact an ordinance, as it is already in the town’s charter.

The supplemental assessments would be for new construction of new homes, for which sales closed following the town’s tax mailing on May 1. That way, the town can send out supplemental assessment billings as the county assesses them.

Botchie said that assessing and billing the homes that have gone up since the billing date could bring in added revenue to the town.

“Properties pending to be assessed would give us $895,400. Today, if we billed on that assessment, we could get $4,477 in extra property tax revenue.”

She added that she would like to send out billing twice a year, on May 1 and again in December.

“I feel we should do this. It is going to impact our revenue budget, increase it. As these taxes are levied, because they’re levied taxes, we continue with the 6 percent to the Millville fire company, as well.”

Bennett agreed but said she would prefer if council could memorialize the change in policy by way of a resolution.

“That may not be a bad idea, because that way we would have a published resolution and our residents would know,” said Botchie.

A resolution is to be drafted and will be presented to council at the Sept. 13 meeting.

Also at this week’s workshop, on behalf of the Town of Millville, Mayor Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. presented a plaque to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s Justin Oakley in honor of their 75 years of service to the community.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication that the Millville fire department does for the area,” he said, also presenting the company with a check for $12,195.64, which was 6 percent of the town’s levied taxes for the most recent fiscal year.