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Lewes, Delaware
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March 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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March 28, 1997
 

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CAPE CffiAg]Wr'l,[riy, Mareh21hAnrfl_$L1997. [7 Lewes passes $1.3million budget; $ 723,000 in. capital improvements set By/kmit Form, y Members of Lewes Council unanimously approved a $1.364,302 budget at a special meeting held Monday, March 24. It represents $72,000 more in ex- penditures than the fiscal year ending now. Covering the fiscal year which begins April l, 1997 and ends March 31, 1998, the budget pro- jects use of $84,313 from the city's approximate reserve of $2.7 million to keep it in balance. City Manager Elaine Bisbee noted however that the budget is simply a forecast of how the city feels it will operate in the next fis- cal year and that operating rev- enues from the past five years hnye actually covered approved Barber--- Continued from palls 1 - order requested by attorneys in- volved in the case to keep the terms of th pending settlement confidential. A handwritten note addressing the confidentiality re- quest noted that Judge=Grves found no precedent in Delaware law for issuing such an order. The note said he would reconsider if such precdent were found. "Deal- ing with a government entity, [the judge] feels the public has a right to know," read the note. The attorneys' request for the confidentiality order noted that it was being made "in light of the consideration exchanged as part of the settlement, the fact of other outstanding litigation against the defendant, and the privacy inter- ests of the plaintiff." The original suit In the suit, Barber asked that Superior Court "reinstate the plaintiff with back pay; award him compensatory and punitive dam- ages; award him costs and attor- ney's fees; and award such other and further relief as the court deems appropriate." Barber filed suit as a result of his being demoted from the posi- tion of chief of police to the posi- tion of corporal in January of 1994. Barber never acknowl- edged his demotion and refused to return to work in that position. He claimed he was denied due process, had his privacy invaded, and suffered from the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The demotion to corporal fol- lowed a previous decision - in No- vember of 1993 - by Lewes Coun- cil to dismiss Barber entirely from employment. Barber refused an option provided by then" Mayor John Adams to resign and instead demanded a We-termination bear- ing. A hearing was scheduled for Jan. 15, 1994 and in December of 1993 the mayor informed Barber that the basis for his dismissal in- cluded: "1) incompetency and in- efficiency in the exercise of orga- nization of leadership of the po- lice force; 2) failure to secure and keep the respect and support of his subordinates on the police force; expenditures. "We've projected deficits in previous years, includ- ing the last few," said Bisbee, "but we have not had to dip into there- serves to meet those deficits. We've been fortunate that rev- enues have been coming in at a more robust pace than we've an- ticipated. I believe the '96-'97 fiscal year, for which we prg. jected a deficit, will actually result in a surplus." The budget approved on Mon- day includes no tax increases. Lewes property owners will con- tinue to pay 32 cents for each $100 worth of assessed property value. Assessed property value is figured at 50 percent of the city's estimate of the actual value of each property. ....... lJ and 3) improper conduct unbe- coming a police officer to mem- bers of the female sex." Following legal maneuvering, Lewes Council changed its tack and decided to demote Barber rather than dismiss him. It can- celled the Jan. 15 hearing saying that Barber was no longer being terminated. As mentioned earlier, Barber re- fused to acknowledge the demo- tion and chose instead to pursue the lawsuit which ended tiiis week. Graves' earlier decision This week's settlement follows a Jan. 31, 1997 decision written by Judge Graves which added City Manager Elaine Bisbee, for- mer Mayor AI Stango and former Director of Public Safety Jack Warrington to the list of defen- dants which the judge felt bore no legal responsibility in the case. Howard Parker and George Cleaver had been previously stricken from the list by the judge. In his Jan. 31 decision, Judge Graves also decided that the other individual defendants in the case - former Mayor John Adams, cur- rent Mayor George Smith, and Council members Elinor Sheehan,* James Ford and Anthony Pratt - were also immune as individuals from the charges leveled by Bar- ber. That Jan. 31 decision left only the city of Lewes, as a legal entity, as responsible for whatever charges the judge might ultimate- ly find to be valid and actionable. This week's settlement means that the litigation ends prior to Judge Graves deciding whether Lewes acted improperly in its handling of Barber. Barber began his employment with Lewes in 1980 as a patrol- man and rose to chief of police in 1985. His troubles began in 1990 when former Mayor AI Stango hired Jack Warrington as Director of Public Sety and ut him in charge of Bart to striighten out problems perceived by Stango with the Lewes Police Depart- ment. Warrington chronicled an extensive portfolio of alleged per- formance problems relating to Barber which ultimately led to his dismissal. Council members also unani- monsly approved a capital pro- jects budget of $723,915 the bulk of which will be funded with lease payments to the city from the sale of lots at Cape Shores. Cape Shores pays Lewes $7,750 per lot sold, in accordance With the terms of a 1990 agreement which enabled Cape Shores to proceed as a development. That agreement included a provision saying that the fees remaining c all unsold lots would be paid at the end of five years which came on Feb. 28, 1997. Cape Shores paid more than $500,000 to Lewes as its final payment and subsequently filed a law suit seeking return of all of its lease fees totalingmore than $1.7 million. Cape Shores contends that the lease fees were not equi- tably applied in light of a change of how commercial leases are now handled. That suit is in its infan- cy. Major items in the capital im- Merchant's -Attic! provements budget include $448,300 for the police station ex- paasion and addition to city hall; $30,000 for police department fur- nishings; $44,865 for two new po- lice vehicles including a 4x4 and a cruiser; $99,000 for a new garbage truck; $34,000 for engi- neering designs related to the im- provement of Second Street; and $7,500 for an upgraded phone sys- tem in city hall. Property taxes are expected to Continued on page 18 Saturday , Mareh P.Sth 9.'00 p.m. - 2 p.m. Admission is just one penney (1) which will be donated to Habitat For Humanity. REHOBOTH-BEACH CONVENglON HALL, REHOBOTH AVENUE Coffee and fresh baked goods will be available Sponsored by the Rehoboth Beach/Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce 227-2233, ext. 11 .NEW KITCHENS APRIL 4TH & STH" I0 A.M." 4 P.M. AL DORMAN 025 YEARS EXPERIENCE Quality Design & Installation For Kitchens & Baths FINANCING AVAILABLE 644-9006 Distributor For Quality Cabinets. Wellbom Cabinets Mouser Custom Cabinets RT 24 JUST OFF RT 1 AT FAMILY DOLLAR MALL NEARREHOBOTH Open Mon. - Fri. 10:00 a. m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday byAppointment