Sussex County Delaware

Fenwick Passes
Yearly Budget

Fenwick Island News

No New Taxes or Fees
For Fiscal Year 2004

SC Online Content Editor

Fenwick Island Town Council adopted its budget for the 2003-'04 fiscal year with no tax increases and no new taxes during its regular council meeting on Friday, June 27, 2003.

The $1.078 million budget projection is slightly lower than the current year's $1.081 million in last year's budget. It calls for expenses of $336,781 by the police department, $253,642 by the public works department, $194,114 in administration costs, $90,510 in lifeguard costs and $203,700 in general expenses.

The town expects property tax revenues to be up slightly, at $430,700 compared to the current year's projected $425,700. Building permit revenues are expected to increase from this year's projected $100,150 to $145,150, and license fees are expected to increase from $73,200 to $86,000 next year

The council, meanwhile, lowered its projection for commercial tax revenues from $50,000 to $36,000. The tax was instituted last year to compensate for budget shortfalls. Revenues from traffic violations, meanwhile, are projected at $$25,000 -- less than one-third of last year's budgeted $80,000 from traffic fines.

The town also plans to use $144,000 from its realty transfer tax to offset deficits in the general fund, while reserving at least one-third for long-term infrastructure improvements such as beach replenishment, canal dredging, community park and underground electric power.

During the same June 27 meeting in which the budget was adopted, the council also voted to borrow $45,000 from its realty transfer tax fund to place in its savings account for 60 days. The money will then be returned to the savings account, according to council member Peter Frederick.

Council member Vicki Carmean raised objections to the council using the realty transfer tax funds for general expenses, which she said goes against state code. Carmean cited a memo from Ray Stevens, deputy State Auditor, who reiterated the limitations on what the transfer tax funds can be used for.

Carmean said she also had reservations about the budget because there was no indication that the town will take steps toward implementing pay scales for employees.

"I feel strongly that it is important to pay our hard-working employees competitive salaries," Carmean said. She urged the council to implement pay scales, "so that all employees could project their salaries as measured by job and years of experience."

Council member Theo Brans said he felt "we can do a much better job to get certain items worked out."

This year, according to council vice president Harry Haon, the council decreased salaries by making some full-time positions part-time.

The budget was approved unanimously, after Carmean initially said she would not vote for it.

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