New SB council gets to business

With three new faces on the South Bethany Town Council, there was plenty to accomplish at the council’s organizational meeting on Saturday, May 30.

Mayor Gary Jane led the first meeting with new council members Timothy Saxton, Robert Youngs and Diane Matera, and council member Marge Gassinger was quickly named mayor pro tem again. When Jayne asked for a volunteer to serve as secretary, the group was quiet until Matera spoke up and said she’d take the position.

“That’s good,” said Youngs. “I was about to nominate you.”

Following a round of laughter, Jayne quieted things down again and went about explaining the rules and procedures of government in South Bethany. He said that the town has three readings of any proposed ordinance, agendas must be posted seven days in advance of a meeting (and no changes can be made within six hours of the meeting) and that the town runs under a “strong town manager” form of government.

The council also decided that beach replenishment conversation would no longer be a part of their regular agenda, since the work is complete. Likewise gone are discussions about the proposed tidal pump project and the completion of dredging of the Assawoman Canal — which should take place between September and December of this year. Councilman John Fields will continue to monitor planning and comprehensive land-use plan issues, and the beautification committee will probably take a break, since the town is short on money right now.

“I’d suggest we just maintain what we have for right now,” said Gassinger.

The council agreed, and Councilman Jay Headman added that he’d like to see the town get into native plants when money does become available down the road. Headman will also continue to monitor the water quality in the town’s canals.

Obviously, the town’s budget and finance committee was a major part of the conversation.

“We need a finance committee to work with the staff and come up with a budget,” said Jayne. He added that he’d like to see the budget be reviewed quarterly now, where it was previously done by “do it, and put it to bed,” said Jayne.

Saxton suggested the council review the budget every month, so property and rental taxes can be gauged more accurately, and Headman readily agreed. The council will work together with Town Manager Mel Cusick on the budget.

The next regular meeting of the South Bethany Town Council will be Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m. at South Bethany Town Hall. There will be a workshop at town hall on Tuesday, June 23, at 7 p.m.