Lewes approves $5 million budget

Mayor, council approve salaries for two new police officers
March 22, 2013
Paul Eckrich, Lewes City manager, said this year's annual city budget review process went smoothly. Lewes Mayor and City Council unanimously approved the nearly $5 million budget for fiscal year 2013-2014, at the panel's March 18 meeting. SOURCE FILE

Lewes Mayor and City Council have approved a nearly $5 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.

“It’s been a good process. We didn’t have a lot of deficit and because of some contracts, we saved money,” said Paul Eckrich, Lewes city manager.

The panel unanimously approved the budget at its March 18 meeting at City Hall.

Following four budget review meetings held over several weeks, it took a final trim of about $44,000 from $4.87 million in expenses to match expected revenue of $4.83 million.

Lewes’ fiscal year begins April 1 and ends March 31, and because of this some expense and revenue figures reflect what has occurred through Jan. 31.

Eckrich said the city would save about $22,000 by combining contracts for park grass cutting and planting bed maintenance.

A property tax increase was not required and property tax revenue is expected to remain flat at $2.3 million, same as in 2012; and property transfer tax collected through January is $600,000; $425,000 was anticipated, the same amount allocated in the proposed budget for next year.

Eckrich said the city has been budgeting transfer tax revenue more conservatively than it did five years ago.

He said when the real estate market slumped, so did transfer tax revenue; city officials said the municipality had become overly dependent on transfer tax revenues.

Lewes anticipated collecting $64,000 in parking violations last year, but collected more than $72,000. As of Jan. 31, more than $82,000 had come in for fiscal year 2013. The proposed budget puts next year’s number at $80,000.

Last year’s parking meter collections were budgeted at $255,000 but more than $294,000 came in. Parking meter collections are budgeted at $280,000 for 2014. Last year’s expenses were $4.73 million; $4.13 million has been spent through Jan. 31. Revenue for 2013 was budgeted at $4.79 million, and the city has collected more than $5.91 million.

Salaries in the police department’s proposed budget are about $111,000 more than 2012’s $1 million because it includes money to hire two new officers.

On March 8, the panel met in executive session to discuss and evaluate job performance and abilities of individual employees and to discuss Burton Avenue contract-sales negotiations.

Costs of nearly all types of insurance are expected to increase, including general liability, health, automobile, police liability, public official, cyber and workers compensation.

“Our workers compensation insurance is up 14 percent and our health insurance is up 12 percent,” Eckrich said.

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