A pay increase for police and lifeguards are part of a proposed $2.7 million budget for FY2015 presented to Dewey Beach town council Friday, Feb. 28.
Town Manager Marc Appelbaum presented the budget, which is roughly $221,000 more than the approved budget for the current fiscal year. The town’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31.
As proposed, salary and wages for police would increase from $532,000 for FY14 to $575,267 for FY15 – an increase of 8.13 percent.
Appelbaum reported Police Chief Samuel Mackert said this increase represented an amount the chief thought was fair and would put Dewey in line with other police departments. Appelbaum added police would be looking for raises of 1 percent to 3 percent in future years.
If approved, the salary and wages for lifeguards would go from $245,000 to $275,000 – an increase of 12.24 percent.
The single largest portion of the increase from FY14 to FY15 comes from the lawsuit legal fees line of the budget. The proposed budget calls for $135,000, which includes an $85,000 payback from the town’s legal defense fund that was spent in FY14.
Appelbaum said the projected income for FY15 is $2.7 million, which means even with raises and legal issues, the town is still anticipating a surplus.
The council discussed increasing the cable franchise fee by a percentage point, from 3 percent to 4 percent. Appelbaum estimated a 1-percent increase would cost 80 cents per household per month. The commissioners tasked Appelbaum with comparing the town’s rate to Lewes, Rehoboth, Bethany and Fenwick and said it should be in line with those towns.
Not included in the FY15 budget is a potential shortfall of $31,000 that would come from the loss of metered parking on Dickinson Avenue. On Feb. 8, council voted to remove 29 metered parking spaces because the congestion is hazardous for public safety.
During the budget presentation, Appelbaum urged members of council to consider the budget implications of removing metered parking.
Appelbaum is forecasting a surplus of $168,319 for FY14, despite the $85,000 in legal fees and a loss of nearly $70,000 in public urination fines.
Appelbaum said the town inadvertently lowered the fees for public urination last year and the mistake wasn’t noticed until July. When the town decriminalized the act, the fine was automatically lowered from $100 to $50. It has since been put back to $100, but not before a significant portion of the year had passed.
“Overall, the town’s finances are good,” he said, adding that he was astounded by the impact of the lowered urination fees on the budget.
Appelbaum will present a revised budget as part of the monthly commissioners meeting on Saturday, March 8. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and will take place at the Dewey Beach Life Saving Station, 1 Dagsworthy Ave.