Millville discusses budget

The Millville town council met March 22 to discuss and review the draft budget for fiscal year 2012.

Councilman Jon Subity noted an increase in budget for legal costs from $10,000 to $15,000. Botchie said that in FY-11, the town’s solicitor was in a number of meetings regarding public safety, has been dealing with possible litigation and spent time reviewing and rewriting ordinances. To be on the safe side, she thought it would be wise to increase the budgeted amount as to avoid potentially going over next year.

She added that professional costs are down now that the town has hired a code & building administrator, deferring some of the costs — which would have been accrued by using URS Corporation.

Under “Awards, gifts, and flowers,” a suggested figure of $600 replaced the budgeted $1,000 for FY-11. The line item covers cost for appreciation dinners for the Millville Volunteers, among other items such as bereavement cards or flowers.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett said she would be in favor of the $600, if not less.

“The cuts have to come somewhere,” she said, adding that the town could consider only having one appreciation dinner per year or try to defer the added cost by finding local businesses who would be willing to donate money or food.

“We should do as much as we can to show our appreciation for the volunteers,” said Subity. “In my opinion we should not decrease that.”

Adding that the town plans to give $12,000 to Millville Volunteer Fire Company, Subity said, “The amount that we give the fire company relative to the amount that we give to the people that are in here, actually in the office working on a daily basis, I think that’s skewed out of our favor.”

Mayor Gerald Hocker, Jr. and Councilman Robert Gordon agreed to stay with a $1,000 line item.

“We have a lot of people who are very interested in what they do,” said Botchie of the town’s volunteers.

At the end of the fiscal year, 25 percent of the gross rental receipts tax will be put into an account for a public safety department. Ten percent of transfer tax monies received at the end of the fiscal year will also go into that account.

“In essence, we’re putting away 35 percent a year for public safety,” said Botchie.

The town will also be setting aside $2,500 every year be set aside of general fund money to save for the revision of the comprehensive plan, which was approved by the previous council.

“So that when year five comes and we have to redo the comprehensive plan, we don’t have to come up with a huge chunk at one time. So we’re proactively trying to reserve some of our general fund money for that purpose,” explained Finance Administrator Betsy Christian.

Bennett asked whether or not the town had budgeted for the garage that is currently located at the front of the building.She said she would like to see the garage retained by the town and moved elsewhere on the property.

“I am not in favor of selling or demolishing that garage,” adding that she would like it to be used to house the town vehicle.

“I think we suck it up and have a garage in front of our building,” said Subity.

Botchie noted that DelDOT would be taking a number of town hall’s parking spaces, requiring the garage to eventually move as handicapped spaces would have to be where it currently stands.

Hocker asked whether or not DelDOT would compensate the town for moving the garage, as they will be taking the spaces. Botchie said she was unsure but it would be something to look into.

Council is set to vote on the issue at their April 12 town council meeting.

Holiday decorations were budgeted under “Economic Development” for $3, 541 for the first year.

Bennett said she was against the town having the decorations, stating it would be a logistical problem “fraught with peril.”

She also noted that the suggested price of purchasing the decorations did not include electrical or labor costs to the town.

“We are in an osterior time — I don’t care to see this kind of money spent,” said Bennett.

“I don’t see where we need to spend a lot on holiday decorations,” agreed councilman Richard Thomas.

“I think that in the times we’re in, to spend this kind of money for Christmas decorations is a little over the top,” said Gordon.

Hocker agreed with the rest of council, noting his opposition to the idea when it was originally proposed.

“I’m still not in favor of spending that kind of money, especially in these economic times.”

Other line items discussed:

• DEMA granted $8,937 to the town for supplies the Millville Volunteers requested for the Emergency Operations Center in the upstairs of the new addition to town hall. The money is to be spent on such items as a hand radio, flashlights, first aid supplies and traffic cones.

• Five percent of monies from transfer tax will be used in economic development, which includes the town’s Great Pumpkin Festival and to restart the town’s newsletter, which will be published in house.

• The town charges $100 in late charges for licensing fees; Botchie noted that the fee is higher than neighboring town’s and suggested to drop it down to $25. Council agreed to decrease the fee.

• The town will budget $2,500 for propane, which is used to heat the new addition, as well as provide hot water.

• Council agreed to maintain Delaware State Police coverage, which is just shy of $80 per hour, which would promise coverage on Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Halloween and Christmas.