Selbyville discusses sewage success, County upgrades

Selbyville is a small town with a healthy utilities business. In fact, money from the municipality’s sewer and water customers often pays for other Town operating expenses.

During a positive financial audit report, auditor Leslie Michalik of PKS & Company noted that the Town transferred $234,000 from the utilities fund into its general fund during the 2017 fiscal year. (Other revenues also increased, so $211,000 was still left over.)

With that kind of cash cow, the Town has little incentive to change the plant or even transfer ownership to anyone else.

But those were two suggestions made Sept. 11 in discussions about upgrades to the County’s South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility. Right now, Selbyville treats all of its own waste, then pumps effluent (wastewater that has already been treated) to the regional facility.

Sussex County is making broad updates to the wastewater treatment systems. They are updating the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility near Bethany Beach and adding a bio-solids facility at Inland Bays Regional Wastewater Facility in Millsboro.

The County has money to start, and they hope to begin construction by the fall of 2018, said Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz.

The County’s 2008 wastewater agreement with Selbyville has no end date, but now is the time for Selbyville to decide if they want to change anything. Design has begun on the County upgrades.

Council members said they weren’t interested in too much change. They suggested that the Town continue pumping over the effluent, as it currently does.

“I pump a good effluent. … The Town has spent a lot of money on our wastewater plant,” said Councilman G. Frank Smith III, who oversees the system. “I’ve got three little pumps, pumping 12 miles. I’ve never had a problem.”

That doesn’t require the same drastic changes as some of the other options discussed, such as shipping waste products in a different form, or relinquishing the Town’s (very profitable) wastewater system to be managed by Sussex County.

Especially after recent upgrades to its water and wastewater systems, Selbyville officials want to get some good use out of the system, providing utilities both in and outside of town limits.

The council plans to discuss the matter again in future.

In other Selbyville news:

• A three-month-long drug investigation surrounding the Polly Branch Road drug trade resulted in 14 arrests. The Selbyville Police Department assisted the other Delaware and Maryland law-enforcement agencies in the investigation.

Meanwhile, the SPD has finally received $19,900 in seized cigarette trafficking money, with which Police Chief Scott Collins hopes to purchase additional camera systems.

• The Selbyville Public Library will host Coffee with a Cop on Oct. 4, from 5 to 6 p.m. The public can meet the Selbyville police officers, ask them questions or just thank them.

• This summer, children were served 434 free meals at the Selbyville Public Library (plus 115 for adults) through the Boys & Girls Club and The Odyssey church.

• The council unanimously approved a conditional-use zoning for a dance studio at 38070 Dupont Boulevard. The 9.7-acre parcel is already zoned commercial and is owned by Douglas Hudson.

• An annexation that began in 2016 was unanimously approved, for a quarter-acre lot near the crossroads of Route 54 and Hudson Road (Sussex County tax map parcel 533-17.00-181.00).

• To improve the water supply on Route 54, the Town is considering a potential partnership with Artesian Water. Although Selbyville provides tap water as a utility, Artesian has proposed selling Selbyville 50,000 of gallons per day at a rate of $3.50 per 1,000 gallons. That would increase water pressure on the east side of town, including in Lighthouse Lakes. It could also benefit fire protection and provide either party with water in an emergency, said Councilman Rick Duncan Sr.

• Selbyville’s own Ana Calles, 17, was recently crowned Miss Hispanic Delaware. She thanked town council for helping to sponsor the pageant/scholarship program.

• The Selbyville Halloween Parade will be held Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., with food vendors, a children’s costume contest, a 50/50 drawing to benefit Fenwick Island Lions Club and more. Groups or businesses that wish to participate or march in the parade should call (301) 655-0742 or (302) 436-8314.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.