Fenwick looking for additional revenue sources

The Fenwick Island Town Council held a special meeting last week to discuss possible revenue enhancement options in a time of economic concern. Financially, the town is in good shape, according to Town Manager Tony Carson, but he said they wanted be proactive and “be ahead” of any need to raise revenue.

“You don’t want to raise revenue when you need it,” he explained, “because then the increase has to be more dramatic.”

The council members went though and discussed all of the town’s fees, to see where they could possible make changes. They then asked Carson to get information on comparable fees from neighboring Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, for everything but building permits and real estate taxes. Council members said they felt building permits and real estate taxes are in line with what other towns are charging, since they had looked at them just a few years ago.

As far as the fees they will be looking at, those include retail merchant fees, contractor fees, residential and commercial rental fees, and parking pass fees.

They also discussed some special permits to possibly explore adding to the list of fees, such as a permit for beach weddings.

Something they will probably look at in the future, they said, is their contract with Delaware Sold Waste Authority for recycling. Currently, the town pays for that service at no direct cost to the homeowner, at a cost of $34 per year per property. The town has seen a reduction in the amount of trash collected since the recycling program began. Their agreement with DSWA is up in October of 2009.

“Certainly that is something they will probably have to look at,” said Carson. “It is a voluntary program, and we tried to encourage recycling by making it no cost, but, eventually, when the new contract comes up, it’ll be something to look at.”

The council also discussed charging for their large-item special trash pick-up, which happens once or twice each year, targeting appliances and other big items, or they could possibly add guidelines on what and how much can be dropped off.

Carson said he plans to give the comparable fees from the neighboring towns to council members sometime in December, so they can possibly take action on any changes after the first of the year.