No one in the audience of about 20 people on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 25, commented on the Town of Ocean View’s $4.6 million proposed budget for the 2021 fiscal year, even though Council Vice President Tom Maly, filling in for the vacationing Mayor Walt Curran, was required to leave the public hearing open from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
At 6 p.m., the work session began, and council members briefly discussed the document that caused no stir in the community.
“Everybody on the public side is very happy. I think we’re going in the right direction. Overall, the budget is really on the right track,” Curran told the Coastal Point earlier.
At the January town council meeting, he had announced that taxes would not be increased.
The budget does not include capital projects, because they are covered by other funding sources, explained Dawn Parks, finance officer for the Town. The budget will be introduced on first reading on March 10 and adopted on April 14. It becomes official on May 1, Parks said.
Expenditures in the proposed budget include $180,000 for replacement of police vehicles, under Public Safety, $15,000 for speed monitors on Central Avenue; $1.3 million for drainage projects; $73,500 for street-repair projects, $37,000 for engineering studies; $350,000 for sidewalk-connectivity projects; and $208,000 for Public Works repairs.
For street repairs, Town Manager Carol Houck said, projected expenditures were increased by $50,000.
“We realized we missed, in the transition going from a full-fledged Public Works department —we missed the line item bringing it into the contractual, and we wanted to see how we could remedy that,” she said.
The money will be used, she said, “for work that comes up.”
“The Town gets a call about it — curb and sidewalk of a small to medium nature, pavement marking, street patching, etc.,” she said.
She said it was determined that $50,000 is a suitable amount “for us to be able to tackle things that come up and address these things.”
Houck said there will be a 1 percent discount for those who pay property taxes early.
Concerning equipment in the budget to assist the Ocean View Police Department, Police Chief Kenneth McLaughlin explained that everything done at the police department is now done by computer, with nothing being hand-written.
“We’re trying to push too much data into the system, and it just can’t take it. The biggest issue comes from our video that we generate — the in-car cameras and the body cameras that we wear. … It is literally taking hours to upload video. This is simply, for now, the best Band-Aid we could come up with. It’s still not going to solve all of our problems,” he said.
Houck reviewed items in the fee schedule of the budget and said the fine for the first offense of barking and howling dogs will be increased from $25 to $50, and increased from $50 to $100 for the second offense. The fine for the first offense for sleeping in public will be increased to $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second, and subsequent, offenses.
Maly said this is the fourth budget he’s worked on as a council member and it was the best, done the most quickly. He thanked Houck, and she, in turn, praised Town staff, saying everyone is thinking hard and working diligently.