Rehoboth presents $15.6 million budget

Vote likely at March 16 meeting

By Ryan Mavity | Jan 30, 2012

Cape Gazette

Rehoboth Beach officials unveiled the first draft of the city's $15.6 million, 2012-13 budget, which includes no tax or revenue increases.

Rehoboth Beach — Officials expect little controversy with this year’s Rehoboth Beach budget, which calls for no tax or parking increases.

The only revenue increase in the $15.6 million 2012-13 budget is a 15 percent increase in the wastewater surcharge. The city has increased the surcharge every year since 2008 in an effort to ease residents into the increased sewer costs incurred because of the ocean outfall project. Anticipated expenses for outfall engineering and permitting are $1.4 million this year.

City Manager Greg Ferrese said, “Nothing exciting in this budget. I was really happy we were able to balance it.”

The city’s biggest revenue generator remains parking meters. After exceeding its $2.5 million projection last year, the city is anticipating $2.6 million in 2012-13. Revenue could increase once the new pay-by-phone system is in place, allowing motorists to use credit cards at all city meters.

Among the new expenses, the city will hire nighttime code enforcer Bobby Edmonds on a full-time basis, a new police vehicle and $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses for the Rehoboth Beach Museum.

The city’s capital improvement budget is $1.39 million, with the biggest expenses being $75,000 for upgrades to City Hall, $202,000 in vehicles for the Street Department, $126,000 in engineering costs for the Lake Avenue sidewalk and road improvement project and finally $132,000 for a citywide property assessment.

The city has not reassessed property since 1969, largely because of the cost of assessment. An offer by PTL/DelVal has offered to do a citywide reassessment for $40 per parcel, or about $128,000. In previous talks on reassessment, cost estimates were $300,000 to $400,000.

Commissioner Stan Mills suggested having property owners help pay $40 for the reassessment, although he did not provide any ideas for how that would be done. Mills said he would look into the idea further.

Mayor Sam Cooper disagreed with Mills’ idea, saying reassessment is a function of the government.

“It just so happens we do it every 40-something years,” he said. “It’s an expense that’s outside our norm because we haven’t reassessed more frequently. I would take offense to you billing me $40 to reassess my property.”

The budget also includes $45,000 for new uniforms for the Rehoboth Beach Police Department. Ferrese said the department wished to get new uniforms to differentiate themselves from Delaware State Police, who wear a similar color uniform. No decision has been made yet on what color the uniforms would be. Ferrese said the department’s union and Cooper would be involved in selecting the uniforms.

All told, the commissioners were satisfied with the budget, setting up only one more session at the Monday, Feb. 6 workshop with an eye towards approval at the Friday, March 16 commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioner Mark Hunker said, “This budget process is really good. Great work.”

Cooper said typically the budget is passed at the March regular meeting. By waiting until then to approve it, the commissioners leave themselves room if they wish to make more changes or hold more budget meetings.