Ocean View looks to recoup various legal fees

The Ocean View Town Council met Monday evening, June 8, with an agenda full of items.

They had a second reading of an ordinance permitting disconnection of water services for failure to pay service bills and also a second reading of an ordinance imposing a penalty fee for failure to connect to the service. They also introduced an ordinance imposing interest and attorney’s fees for failure to pay.

“This is to cover all our bases with issues dealing with the water system,” said Town Manager Conway Gregory. He said the town had been – unsuccessfully – sued by a particular citizen concerning the water system more than once, at a cost of around $15,000 to the town for its defense. “If we win in court, we can expect them to pay the legal fees — that’s the purpose of this ordinance.”

Gregory also gave the council a final report on the relocation of town general and administration departments to the second floor of the Wallace A. Melson Administration and Public Safety building. Total costs to move in were approximately $117,000, with engineering costs at about $16,000. Mayor Gordon Wood mentioned that, in the future, the council might consider looking into public and staff restroom access on the second floor.
Councilman Bill Wichmann on Monday reported that, although the water committee had met on the issue of pending increases in water rates and costs for the town-owned water system and Tidewater Utilities President Gerard L. Esposito was “willing and open to work with us,” that the water situation “is what it is.”

“I’d love to say Tidewater refunded half the money, but that’s not the case,” said Wichmann. “But, we can honestly say we are doing everything we can for the citizens, and we have explored every possibility.”

Historic district regs, house repairs approved

Councilman Richard Nippes on Monday introduced an ordinance providing regulations for the HPOZ Historic Preservation District, and the council voted 4-1, with Councilman Perry Mitchell dissenting, to authorize getting bids for roof and foundation repair at the former Shores house, which – now owned by the town – was initially proposed as a site for a historical museum.

Nippes still has a goal of eventually being able to tie in the house with the Ocean View Historical Society’s future museum, but to do that, there has to be some preservation/maintenance work done.

Residents Elaine Birkmeyer and Baptist Damiano spoke out against spending the $20,000 appropriated toward the maintenance, as did Dave Colella. George Walter offered the opposing view, saying that it was “chump change” to preserve something so valuable.

Nippes explained that the options are to leave the house alone, demolish it or try to maintain it using the funds already appropriated, but the first two could set a precedent the council didn’t want to set. “We could leave it alone or demolish it, but that would send a negative message [after creating the historic district],” he said.

Gregory pointed out that, although the figure of $20,000 was being used, the council had actually appropriated $35,000 — $15,000 in the first year and $5,000 each for the next four years, but he said the money could be used all in once year, or spread over five.

“The figure $20,000 keeps being thrown around, but the actual appropriation is $35,000,” Gregory emphasized.

Wichmann voted against even getting bids for the work, saying “When is it going to end? I like the idea that it can happen, but we can’t do $20,000 every few months. Next, you’ll come back and want to take the siding off…”

Nippes said the historical society does eventually plan to make such changes, but would do so using grants and donations. “We will not ask the taxpayers for another cent after the appropriations.”

Wood added that they are not committing any more money that what was already committed.

Also on Monday, the council agreed to award the bid for removal of the Lampe house from that property to Christine Spencer. The bid was in the amount of $100.

Resolution on billing for police services put on hold

Mitchell had planned to possibly introduce a resolution authorizing the town of Ocean View to invoice the Town of Millville for police calls made in 2008 and the beginning of 2009. He said he had a revised “work-around” resolution but Wood said that, because neither the original motion nor the revision were in by noon on Friday, they would not consider it on June 8.

“Who are we going to send the bill to?” Wood also asked, rhetorically. “The state police asks us to respond to Millville.”

The council also introduced a motion to amend a rule for the town council regarding “fiscal responsibility,” which would allow the town to get a feel for the administrative costs associated with any new ordinances, resolutions or proposals. The motion would add that a good-faith estimate of any expenses that will be incurred by the town be attached to any new ordinance set forth.

In other news from June 8:
• Transfer taxes collected in the month of May totaled $22,000. To meet the budgeted amount of $450,000 for the current fiscal year, average monthly collections need to be $37,500.

• Public Works Supervisor Charlie McMullen reported that Deborah Karwacki had been hired as an assistant in his department. He again praised lone Pubic Works employee Jarred Steele for all his hard work and noted that 604 permits for hookup to the water system had been issued as of June 8, and 552 of them were already inspected and hooked into the water system.

• Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin reported that the department had responded to 250 service calls for the month of May. He said the department is consistently at about a 25 percent increase in calls over last year.

He also reported that, starting this week, concrete trucks from Thourogood’s in Millsboro will be traveling to the Indian River Inlet Bridge construction site. As the concrete only has a 60-minute window before setting, driving down Route 26 through Ocean View and turning left at Central Avenue and then right onto Fred Hudson Road is the most direct route and one the company planned to use.

“They are state roads, so there is nothing we can do about it,” said McLaughlin. “There will be anywhere from 60 to 150 trucks per day starting at 3 a.m. until about 4 p.m.” He added that the company had agreed that Ocean View would be taking a zero-tolerance approach with any drivers not obeying speed limit or other traffic laws.