South Bethany awash in transfer tax revenue

South Bethany is expecting an additional $100,000 in revenue above its current budget, thanks to an increase in transfer taxes. That will more than cover some unexpected expenses in the 2015-fiscal-year budget, for the period ending April 30, 2015.

South Bethany has already surpassed its original transfer tax estimate of $250,000.

“We had already had, at the end of November, around $275,000,” said Council Treasurer Tim Saxton. “And when we looked at historical averages, we thought if those trends were to continue, we’d hit $350,000. So we revised our estimate.”

The South Bethany Town Council voted 6-1 at its December meeting to amend that budget line with the revised figure.

Although council members said future reports will show original and amended projections, Councilman Al Rae said he preferred to leave the number as is, so they could see the unadulterated number.

Saxton admitted that the line item didn’t need to change. But the Town will pay more bank fees on that higher income, so he wanted to show all increases.

South Bethany will also pay about $13,115 more than expected in several areas. The town council approved increases to expenses including: real estate transfer tax fees increased by $3,500 to a total of $6,000; general insurance by $2,500 to $74,000; audits and accounting by $1,350 to $9,650; bank charges by $2,250 to $4,250; public safety advertising (due to several retirements) by $1,296; the new public relations committee by $600; and emergency automobiles by $1,618.

“The bottom line is: these are just adjustments we did because some of these accounts had gone a little over expense. We asked for additional monies, but we increased revenue,” Saxton said.

“We increased our revenue by $100,000, so we clearly offset it.”

In other news from the December council meeting:

• The council unanimously approved new rules for any town committee members seeking reimbursement from the Town for council-related expenses.

Future reimbursements must be first presented to a councilmember. Currently, committee members can just bring receipts to the financial director to be paid back.

“No one objects to the committee members spending money. … I’m just asking for some kind of control,” Saxton said. He suggested a little more oversight so the financial director isn’t as responsible for multiple committees.

The Budget & Finance Committee will design a system by which the committee’s overseeing council member (or the council treasurer) signs off on the receipt, in essence authorizing the repayment. The Budget & Finance Committee will develop the paperwork to make that happen.

• Police Chief Troy Crowson shared details from his October trip to a conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He attended programs on grant writing, responding to individuals with mental health disorders, critical incidents and disasters, reducing traffic-related injuries and more. He also learned about new technology that may help South Bethany prevent crime or catch perpetrators, such as software to prevent criminal impersonation.

• The council reviewed the community survey that residents and property owners will be asked to complete this year.

• A public hearing for the new proposed floodplain ordinance, as part of the update of FEMA-related flood maps, will be held at the next town council workshop, on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 5 p.m.

The ordinance reflects updates to Zoning Chapter 145 of Town Code: Article XIV (Coastal Floodplain Regulations); Article III (Definitions); Article VI (Establishment of Districts); and Article XV, (Board of Adjustment).