MVFC to get grant from Ocean View

The Ocean View Town Council this week voted to grant the Millville Volunteer Fire Company monies from the town’s Emergency Services Enhancement Fund.

Since the town had about $64,000 in the fund as of March 9 but still has two months left in its fiscal year, Town Manager Conway Gregory asked if the council could leave the exact amount of the grant open-ended until May 30, to see exactly how much will be available in the fund some the end of the fiscal year.

The fire company had asked for $74,000, and they were the only entity to apply for a grant from the fund. The council decided to award the company with whatever monies are in the fund as of May 30, up to $74,000.

Councilman Richard Nippes thanked MVFC Deputy Chief Doug Scott for the fire company’s hard work and dedication. Scott, in turn, thanked the council for their continued support. “Thank you for last year and thanks you for this year,” Scott said. “This is a vital part of our income, and we really do appreciate it. Thank you.”

In other news from the March 9 council meeting:

• The council voted down extending Town Manager Conway Gregory’s existing contract. Mayor Gordon Wood explained that Gregory’s contract is not a “term” contract.

“Unless there is action not to renew it, it renews,” he said. Nippes said he had voted against an extension of Police Chief Ken McLaughlin’s contract last month for fear that it would create morale problems and would send the wrong message to other employees.

Wichmann explained this week that the chief has been offered an extension of his contract since “there was no money available” after he had gotten a favorable annual review. “We are in the middle of the review of the town manager,” Wichmann emphasized. “How can we make a decision before the review is over?”

Nippes and Mitchell voted to “extend” the town manager’s contract, while Wood, Councilman Robert Lawless and Wichmann voted not to do so.

• The council also approved asking Gregory to give them recommendations on creating contracts with Finance Director Lee Brubaker and Administrative Official Charlie McMullen and, if recommended, for those contracts to have terms and conditions. Nippes had asked contracts for the two employees be on the agenda “to provide them with some measure of security.”

• The annual Ocean View Town Council election will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, at 32 West Avenue. Resident Michele Steffens has filed for the District 1 seat, as has Nippes, the incumbent in that district. Resident Geoffrey Christ has filed for the seat in District 2, which is currently held by Bill Wichmann, who is ineligible to run for a third term.

The deadline for filing to run for either seat was March 11, after Coastal Point press time for this issue. A final slate of candidates for the election will be available after March 11. Additionally, Steffens this week resigned from the Board of Supervisors of Elections, to clear the way for her run, and the council voted unanimously to appoint Lena Kuhblank, a member of the Ocean View Historical Society and the Homecoming Committee, to fill that position.

• The council on March 9 also introduced an ordinance amending Chapter 3, “Fees,” relating to fees for business. They would rise from $125 to $150, and rental licenses and gross receipts’ tax, which would become $75, plus 4 percent on all rental income, due twice a year, effective January 2011, and 5 percent effective January 2012.

Also introduced was an ordinance amending Chapter 93, “Licenses,” to change the due dates for annual license fees to be due in January rather than May, to change the termination date of annual licenses and to change the rate and due date for the gross receipts tax. Building permit fees would also rise from $1 per square foot to $1.25 per square foot.

• The council also introduced an ordinance to amend the town’s water-system fees, with increases described by Gregory as a “pass-through from Tidewater.” Fees for temporary turn on and turn off made at the request of the customer would rise from $45 to $60, or $100 if coming after-hours. Service connection charges would rise from $1,100 to $1,900 for pipes of diameters from 5/8-inch to 3/4-inch meters, from $1,430 to $2,500 for 1-inch meters, from $1,860 to $3,200 for 1.5-inch meters and from $2,415 to $4,100 for 2-inch meters. Service calls for frozen service lines or leaks that are the customer’s responsibility would rise in cost from $45 to $60, and after-hours charges for those calls would be $100.

• The council voted to enter into a lease agreement with the Ocean View Historical Society for a lease of two rooms at 32 West Avenue for $3,900 per year, or $325 per month.

• The council voted to permit the town manager to enter into agreements with the towns of Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Millville to collectively renegotiate the towns’ franchise agreements with cable-television provider Mediacom, or other competitive providers, should they become available. The town manager now has permission to join those towns in employing a specialist attorney, subject to council approval.

As usually happens when the towns look to consider extending the existing franchise agreements, a focus was the service that is provided to local customers by the franchisee. Wood emphasized again on Tuesday that people who are getting the same service should pay the same service cost, and interruption discounts or rebates should be across the board.

“They have [cut bills] $30 if you go to Dagsboro and say you are going to change to satellite,” said Wood. “If you don’t ask for it, you don’t get it. And that’s wrong.”

• The town held a public hearing for the second reading of an ordinance annexing the last portion of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School propery into the town, and a public hearing on the first reading of the town’s annual operating budget for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2011, as well as the capital improvement program for fiscal years 2011-2015.

• Finance Director Lee Brubaker reported that the town has met its budgeted figure for transfer tax revenue, with two months of collections remaining.

• Police Chief Ken McLaughlin reported that there had been an increase in burglaries, mentioning specific cases in Savannahs Landing and Bear Trap. He assured Ocean View citizens that the police department is thoroughly investigating the complaints.