Dewey Beach officials say they expect a $300,000 surplus for the fiscal year that ended on March 31.
Mayor Diane Hanson said, “I think it's fantastic. It's certainly nice to be operating in the black, but to have a surplus means we can do a lot of things to improve the town.”
The numbers have yet to be confirmed by an independent auditor, but this will be the third consecutive year the town will have a surplus of more than $200,000. In Fiscal Year 2013 the surplus was $210,000, and in Fiscal Year 2012 there was a surplus of more than $600,000.
During a budget presentation to town council in February, Town Manager Marc Appelbaum said that he was confident the town would exceed the fiscal year's budgeted surplus of $65,000, but not by how much.
Appelbaum said he didn't want to put a dollar amount to the surplus during that meeting because if that projection turns out to be smaller then there are going to be questions.
“I want to be ultra conservative,” he said. “As it turns out, we had a really good last two months of the year.”
The surplus comes despite spending nearly $50,000 more than expected to operate the town and also falling more than $70,000 short in projected income from fines.
A significant portion of the surplus can be attributed to a few specific revenue sources – daily parking permits, building permit fees, and the combination of parking meters and parking fines. Parking permits are expected to bring in $108,000 more than budgeted; building permits fees more than $96,000; and parking meters and parking fines more than $51,000. The remainder of the surplus comes in small amounts throughout the budget.
Hanson said some of the surplus money will be spent to make improvements in infrastructure and technology systems, and some of the money will go into the town's reserve fund.
“We need to manage the money of the town very wisely,” she said.
Appelbaum expects the budget to be finalized by the end of June or early July. He said the independent auditor will begin work in two weeks, and the audit takes about 60 days to complete.
He's confident the audited total will confirm the predicted surplus total.
“We got a clean audit for last year's budget, and I expect the same this year,” said Appelbaum.
As a result of meeting and then exceeding the budget goal, year-round employees of the town will be receiving a bonus that could be as high as $1,000.
Resolution 138, created in October 2009, says that non-seasonal employees automatically get a $250 bonus if the budget goal is met.
In addition to the automatic bonus, nonseasonal employees get an equal share of a 5-percent bonus for every $100,000 over the amount by which the town’s audited financial performance exceeds its budget goal.
The Fiscal Year 2013 surplus translated into a total bonus amount of about $700, said Appelbaum, who helped write the resolution when he was a member of the town’s budget and finance committee before becoming town manager.
The creation of the resolution came about because the committee wanted to enact some private-sector thoughts into running the town, explained Appelbaum.
“If we hit our budgetary goal, shouldn’t the employees be rewarded?” Appelbaum said. “Maybe it means they remember to turn off the [air conditioning] when they leave or remember to turn off the lights. Efficiency should be rewarded. Otherwise we’re just task masters.”
Hanson supports the idea of employee bonus too.
“The employees work very hard. They don't get paid as much as the private sector, so it's nice to give them a bonus,” she said.