South Bethany approves 2011 budget

The South Bethany Town Council this week approved the town’s budget for the 2011 fiscal year. Major elements of the budget include no property tax increases and keeping expenses, such as salaries, flat. Also, there will be a restructuring of healthcare costs for new employees. Rental tax rates will remain at 8 percent of total gross receipts for each residential and commercial property.

Councilman and Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Timothy Saxton presented the draft budget’s synopsis to the council on Friday, April 9, saying that the committee’s plans were to establish long-range projections, reclassify unspecified reserves, establish formal depreciation and special project -driven capital reserves, and laying a foundation for the budget structure moving forward.

In the budget are funds for Internet technology upgrades ($30,000), two new police cars ($52,000), $6,000 for the Beautification Committee, $750 for the Canal Water Quality Committee and $15,000 for street drainage. Saxton added that the only new capital project is the IT infrastructure. All told, revenues for the 2011 fiscal year are expected to be $1.89 million, expenses $1.76 million and reserves at approximately $133,000.

Mayor Gary Jayne said he would “vote for the thing, but I am a little disappointed in not getting the 2.5 percent increase for staff,” he added, speaking of the caliber of town employees. “I would hope that we take a look at where we stand in the fall.”

Saxton noted that 2.5 percent in real dollars is about $15,000 saved by not giving raises to town employees this fiscal year, and he added, “It is not a reflection of the employees. It’s a reflection of the economy.”

Saxton added in his treasurer’s report that town was “pleased to not have to dip into reserves,” and said transfer tax revenues had come in higher than expected. But he added that they still had a long way to go considering that they got to where they are, in part, because of doubling taxes last year.

The council on April 9 also held a first reading of Ordinance 154-10, Chapter 145, Zoning, to further define structures. Swing sets and clotheslines were added to the definitions and are not considered structures under the ordinance as they pertain to setbacks, but after comments from those in attendance at the meeting, Saxton said he would be sure to define that the ordinance change was regarding to structures allowed in “rear” setbacks.

In other news from the April 9 council meeting:

• South Bethany police will be giving out bicycle helmets this summer to those who need them. Every cyclist younger than 18 is required by state law to wear a helmet, but local police forces have had difficulty getting the word out to their many visitors. With a $5 deposit, they can have a helmet if they do not currently own one. If they return the helmet, they will get their money back. If not, they can keep the helmet for the $5 cost. The helmets were purchased with a grant.

Police Chief Joe Deloach also asked on April 9 that people be cautious around people soliciting business of any type. He mentioned that there had been a man with a car detailing business who was telling people that he knew Deloach. Deloach said he had gone to high school with the man, but that they did not know each other now. He noted that the man does not have a mercantile license in South Bethany, so he can not legally work in town.

• Property owners who do not yet have an Allied Waste recycling container, or who have both a DSWA and an Allied container, are being asked to call town hall.

Town Manager Mel Cusick also reported on April 9 that Dan West has been hired as the town’s new code enforcement offier. West comes most recently from consulting work and, before that, worked with the Town of Berlin, Md., in code enforcement.

• Jayne asked that people continue to support the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company. From 5 p.m. to close on Sunday, April 25, Sedona restaurant will be donating 20 percent of all bills to the fire company. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, T-shirt sales, door prizes and free kids’ fire hats. Jayne also noted that May 8 is Fair Trade Day, and Made by Hand, a local fair-trade cooperative in South Bethany, will be celebrating it, as they do each year.