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Lewes, Delaware
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February 21, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 21, 2006
 

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Ill II CAPE GAZETTE - Tuesday, Feb. 21 - Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006 - 5 Lewes works on draft 2006-07 budget By Henry J. Evans Jr. Cape Gazette staff The City of Lewes has started its annual budget review process but exactly how much revenue will be generated-and how much expenses will be won't be clear until later in the process. Lewes Mayor and Council met Friday, Feb. 17, for the first public review of the budget for fiscal year 2006-07. City Manager Elaine Bisbee told the panel total- revenues are expected to top $3.7 million in the next fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2006, through March 31, 2007. Total revenues for this fiscal year, which ends on March 31, is expected to be $3.4 million. "If the market stays where it is, I think that's a good number, Bisbee told the panel. Expenses for the street, police and administrative departments and general government expendi- tures are expected to total more than $3.5 million. Bisbee said at this stage of the review process, the budget is never balanced. There are variables on the rev- enue and expense sides of the city's ledger, and Bisbee said those could change what the city expects to make and spend. One of the top variables is how much-the city expects to collect in property transfer taxes. Estimated income from transfer taxes for this fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, is $1.179 million. Estimates for next fiscal year put the number at $1.365 million. Bisbee said a softening real estate market could also affect what the city expects to see in property transfer taxes. Expected to be healthy but not rising as much as desired, and lower than last year, is revenue from parking meters and parking violations. Bisbee said because of Second Street's revitalization project, fewer parking meters would be available, so fewer park- ing violations would be collected early in the season. Nonetheless, parking meter revenue is expected to rise from $139,000 for this year compared to an estimated $144,000 for fiscal year 2006. Mercantile license taxes are also expected to rise next fiscal year to $128,000 from $115,000. City Councilman Jim Ippolito suggested the city begin to exam- ine increasing mercantile license fees. He said the $75 fee hasn't increased for nine years and is low compared to towns such as Milton and Rehoboth Beach, where it's in the $200 range. Health insurance costs are expected to rise from $95,998 to more than $112,000 for the Lewes Street Department. Similar NOTICE OF CANDIDATE FILING DEADLINE BOARDS OF EDUCATION IN SUSSEX COUNTY A qualified person seeking to become a candidate for the Board of Education for a public school district shall submit a Candidate Filing Form to the Department of Elections for Sussex County no later than 4:30 p.m. local time on Friday, March 3, 2006 for Sussex County School Districts. School Board Election Date: Tuesday, May 9, 2006 Cape Henlot)en School District One Member-At-Large Term Ends June 30, 2011 Delmar School District One Member-At-Large Term Ends June 30, 2011 Indian River School District Two Members District No. 1 Terms End June 30, 2009 One Member District No. 2 Term Ends June 30, 2009 One Member District No. 3 Term Ends June 30, 2007 One Member District No. 4 Term Ends June 30, 2009 Laurel School District One Member-At-Large Term Ends June 30, 2011 Seaford School District One Member-At-Large Term Ends June 30, 2011 Woodbridge School District One Member-At-Large Term Ends June 30, 2011 School Board Member Candidate Filing Forms may be obtained from the Department of Elections for Sussex County in person in the office of the department, by mail or fax. Completed filing forms must be returned back to the department with the original (live) signature. Candidate Filing Forms are available at: http://electionssc.delaware._2ov All terms begin July 1, 2006. Department of Elections for Stms: County 119 N. Race Street, Georgetown, DE 19947 Phone: 856-5367 increases in health-insurance costs will also affect the other depart- ments. Police health insurance is expected to jump from $114,000 to $134,000, and insurance for the administrative department is expected to rise from $33,000 to $70,000. Bisbee said the draft budget allowed a 10"percent rate increase, but the actual increase amount wouldn't be known until Coventry Health Care set its rates next month. Among other expenses included in the budget are a new police cruiser for $19,500, a new hybrid sport utility vehicle for the city's building code enforcement offi- cial and a 20 percent increase in the donation the city makes to the Lewes Fire Department. Police need the new cruiser, which would be purchased through a state contract, to replace an aging vehicle. A beavy-duty pickup truck purchased last year for the city's building official would be given to the Street Department. Mayor Jim Ford said the building official's job descrip- tion had changed significantly, and the pickup could be better used by streets workers. Ford said the fire department deserved a larger donation from the city because calls for service have steadily increased. He said the city gets tremendous value from the fhre department because of its all-volunteer staff. Ippolito was less than enthusi- astic about one budget item, an increase in Parks and Recreation requests of $54,126 last fiscal year to $116,500. Ippolito asked why the park's budget had nearly doubled from last year's. Bisbee explained the increased costs are for the Summer Concert season and included a wish list for AI Stango Park. "I have a concern about how" many flowers we need; $116,000 is a lot of pretty," said Ippolito. 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