Ocean View council talks expenditures

Ocean View detailed three lists of proposed budgetary expenses at a Feb. 1 committee meeting, considering capital outlays for public works ($3.9 million) and public safety ($3.2 million).

The new police station remained by far the largest item in the budget, at $2.9 million. (Computers, vehicles, furniture, firearms, phones and a security system bring that up to $3.2 million.)

Town Manager Kathy Roth and Charlie McMullen (admin official, supervisor of public works) fielded questions from members of the long-range financial committee.

Committee member Eric Magill asked for a rundown on most of the 80-plus budget lines.

While many were self-explanatory, Roth showed a standard five percent increase year-to-year as a general principle.

However, fees for professionals (legal, engineering, etc.) appeared 62 percent higher than last year, at $80,000.

“A lot of that is from Kercher Engineering and much of that is reimbursed,” Roth pointed out.

She also said she hoped to cut that figure moving forward, possibly by hosting University of Delaware student projects. Roth anticipated the number would drop back to $63,000 in fiscal 2007.

Magill suggested Roth move a $151,000 property assessment out of 2007 and into this year’s budget.

He said they hadn’t commissioned a town-wide assessment since 1984, so it was somewhat overdue. The adjustment could mean as much as a 10 percent in property tax revenues.

The town anticipated they would pay roughly $300,000 in payroll and payroll taxes in fiscal 2006.

Roth pointed out a 10 percent increase in general and administrative payroll, and in hospitalization insurance.

The public works payroll should actually decrease by 14 percent, but McMullen spoke at length regarding a much-needed storage garage for the public works vehicles, which are presently parked outside in the elements.

The committee wrangled over a four- versus six-bay garage, and where they’d put it, but the cost remained at $125,000 for the time being.

McMullen asked for a street sweeper ($35,000), but committee member Bill Wichmann advised against the purchase. “If you’re going to buy one of those things, you’d better plan to hire two mechanics as well,” he said.

However, McMullen said it didn’t have to be the maintenance-intensive model with the rolling brushes.

He noted the possibility that the state might soon restrict the disposal of yard waste and if those regulations go through, the town will need some kind of vacuum bagging capability to clear away leaf litter in the fall.

McMullen requested a better truck ($24,000), something that could accommodate a larger salt spreader for winters as icy as the present one. He said the town could provide little more than attention at intersections with the equipment they have now.

Public works has $190,000 slated for bike paths and sidewalks in fiscal 2006. Roth said easements were tight, but they might have room to run a single bike lane along one side of Woodland Avenue.

McMullen also asked for $15,000 to replace old tools and some of the smaller pieces of equipment.

Roth had calculated future years based on that number, but committee member Gary Meredith recommended cutting that figure back to $10,000 in 2007.

Magill suggested the town might want to consider holding one year’s worth of operating budget money in an undesignated (rainy day) fund, but committee members Wichmann and Wade Spanutius expressed reservations. The committee hadn’t come to a decision on that as of Feb. 1.

The next long range financial planning committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m. at the Ocean View Presbyterian Church.