Millsboro approves budget, new sewer rate increase

The Millsboro Town Council met earlier this week to discuss and approve the Town’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

Finance Director William Sauer said that the Town was in good fiscal shape, as general funds increased $104,000 over the prior fiscal year, and $74,000 of that was from capital expenditures.

“We’re short $18,000, which last year was $56,000. The shortfall is made up from the prior year transfer-tax collections. Our goal is to get that to zero, and this is our progress getting to that point,” he explained.

Sauer noted that there would be no increase in property tax rates, but the town’s sewer rate will be increasing by 5 cents per 100 gallons used.

He added that revenue coming from new homes was up, as 155 new homes were built inside Millsboro town limits last year.

“This year turned out to be a very good year with the new homes… A lot of that was generated with Plantation Lakes coming back in strong, Wharton’s Bluff, Burton’s Crossing… With all the new homes, our transfer taxes increased this year over the last.”

Sauer stated that total transfer tax revenue was up 28 percent over last year but still not back to the peak.

“Even though it’s a positive increase, we’re still nowhere near where we were in the old days,” he said.

The council unanimously approved the budget with a vote of 7-0.

Council members also discussed his week the progress of town hall renovations, which have so far required seven change orders to be approved since construction began in April.

Assistant Town Manager Matt Schifano said that numerous change orders had been placed in June due to various unexpected findings by the contractors.

“They found some unsuitable soil — basically soil with broken bricks. There was additional soil testing that needed to be done. A couple of the windows they had to take out because they were rotted out, and we had planned to use them. There are a couple additional beams we need to have. There was a structure support beam they didn’t know about.”

Schifano said, though, that the change orders would not cost the Town any additional money toward renovations above what was budgeted.

“We have just over $90,000 built into the contract, just in case of this very thing. This is not money above and beyond,” he explained.

Town Manager Faye Lingo asked the council what how they would like the staff to handle change orders, as many of them cannot be held for approval at the next council meeting because that would hold up construction.

The council requested that Schifano scan and email change orders to them and said they would, in turn, approve them and allow Bryan to sign off on them. At the following month’s council meeting, the council would then reaffirm their approval of the order.

In other town news:

• The town council recently held its annual reorganizational meeting, at which Robert Bryan was reappointed mayor, John Thoroughgood appointed vice-mayor, Greg Hastings secretary, Michelle Truitt Treasurer and Tim Hodges president pro-tem. All committees remained the same.

• Millsboro Fire Company President Ron O’Neil reported that the company was up 5 percent in fire calls from last year and up 14 percent in EMS calls. He noted that the EMS percentage is a new company record but said he does not know why the number has increased.

“That’s not a good number, and that puts us in a record… We always increase in the summer months, but it’s hard to tell,” he said of the root of the increase.