South Bethany talks expenses

With $1,495,000 notched for combined general administrative, public safety (police), beach patrol and public works, South Bethany town council is starting to get a firm grasp on where money will be going this fiscal year.

Council held its third budget meeting/workshop on March 8, reviewing various permutations of the police pension plan, Maintenance Mechanic Bob Washburn’s proposed budget (aka Bob’s shopping list),” salaries (in executive session) and a host of other administrative items.

In broader strokes, council members requested funds be earmarked for several specific capital projects, although it is unlikely that the town will actually expend those monies this year.
1) Town Hall renovations/new Police Station — $800,000
2) Emergency reserves — $500,000
3) Town canal dredging — $300,000
4) Tidal Pump project — $250,000

These areas are essentially holding cells, until projects are actually approved through special election (referendum), advertised, bid and begun.

1) Town Hall/Police Station. Council Members Marge Gassinger and Bonnie Lambertson are working on this project, and they’ve narrowed their options to less than a handful, but the figure is still a ballpark.

They’ve been negotiating with several modular home manufacturers for a police department, and are comparing costs of elevating Town Hall (to address flooding in the crawlspace and mold) and renovating, versus a new building.

2) Emergency reserves. According to Town Manager, the figure is actually quite low for a town with a budget of this size. It could be used to repair roads following a major storm, for instance.

3) Town canal dredging. South Bethany is trying to hold back on this, awaiting the outcome of the Assawoman Canal dredging project. The estimate is based on $250,000 from the engineers, plus $50,000 in case the town has to pick up additional expenses preparing the spoils site.

4) Tidal Pump. This is “seed money” for Council Member Lloyd Hughes’ ambitious goal of running pipes under Route 1, to freshen town canals with a tidal exchange of ocean water.

Council members also chose a few charities at the March 8 workshop.

Last year, they gave $1,000 to the South Coastal Library, $1,000 to Millville Volunteer Fire Company/Ambulance, $600 to the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company (and a $100 donation to the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Association).

In fiscal 2006, council is proposing to increase charitable giving as follows.
• $2,000 to Bethany Fire
• $1,000 to Millville Fire/Ambulance
• $1,000 to the library
• $1,000 to the Center for the Inland Bays construction project