The Fenwick Island Town Council approved the town’s 2022-fiscal-year budget last week with little fanfare. The budget includes no tax increases nor any new fees.
The budget report presented at the final budget meeting on June 29, however, does include a caveat that a tax increase is “strongly suggested” for the next fiscal year. Fenwick Island property taxes were last increased in the 2002-2003 fiscal year.
Taxes, the report said, “should be reviewed again once revenue from increases in building and development are better known.”
As for this year, the Town has a record 18 homes currently under construction, and real estate transfer tax revenue has seen a dramatic increase in Fenwick Island, as in many other towns, due to a booming real estate market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Real estate transfer tax revenues for the Town totaled $900,000 this fiscal year — nearly twice the total of the previous year and more than four times that of 2019.
Despite the windfall in real estate transfer taxes, the town’s budget kept projected revenues at pre-pandemic levels for the coming year, since that trend is not expected to continue. Reserves were used to balance the 2022-2021 budget.
Fenwick Island’s projected budget is $4.2 million, of which $2.3 million represents operating expenses and $1.8 million represents capital expenses. Staff salaries will see a 3 percent increase in the coming year.
Town resident Mark Tingle said during the July 23 council meeting that the Town’s current tax revenues, which cover 30 percent of its budget, are “woefully inadequate” to meet the Town’s current budgetary needs.
Other residents at the meeting addressed current tensions in Fenwick Island as the town nears a council election that has been fraught with accusations by four challengers against the four incumbents running for re-election.
Resident Ronald Blanck remarked, “I kind of feel like I’m in Vietnam again,” while Elise Rubenstein said she felt negative campaign signs — particularly those seen along Bunting Avenue — “do not reflect our town.”