There will be no increases to taxes, parking meters, fees or licenses in Lewes this year, as mayor and city council approved the fiscal year 2021-22 budget at its March 15 meeting.
The new fiscal year begins Thursday, April 1.
Council plans to pull $518,000 from reserves to balance this year’s budget.
“This decision was made because we have healthy reserves,” said City Manager Ann Marie Townshend. “Even with this transfer, we will continue to have healthy reserves, and this gives us time to see how the revenues adjust as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Prior to approval of the budget, the city had $2.378 million in reserves spread between checking accounts and investments.
Townshend said the city operates with a fiscally conservative approach and the revenues often exceed projections.
“We are not in a pattern of continually dipping into reserves,” she said.
Council voted 4-1 to approve the budget, with Councilman Rob Morgan objecting due to increased spending on the police department.
Approved projects for the upcoming fiscal year include full street rebuilds of Adams Avenue ($71,000) and Railroad Avenue ($465,000), street rehabilitation of Shipcarpenter Square ($115,000), and new AD-compliant ramps and crosswalks ($115,000). Also planned this year are construction of bathrooms for the city meeting room at the Rollins Community Center ($202,000); improvements to the parking lots at M&T Bank ($20,500), Otis Smith Park ($25,500) and Schley Avenue ($95,000); the first step of a signage improvement project ($107,500); and the second phase of a new playground at George H.P. Smith Park ($36,950).
Council will continue its annual street improvement program with Phase 24 ($277,000).
Phase 24 is underway and includes Coleman Avenue and East Fourth Street as well as the crosswalks at Manila Avenue, Adams Avenue and Kings Highway. Most of the work that has been completed to date has been related to the water main, so much of the work for the street project hasn’t been billed and will fall into FY 2021-22. The project will be complete in April.
BPW increases water commodity rate
The Lewes Board of Public Works approved its FY 2021-22 budget Feb. 24, with an 8-cent increase in the water commodity rate – from $1.27 per 1,000 gallons to $1.35 per 1,000 gallons. The increase takes effect Thursday, April 1, and will be reflected in May utility bills.
General Manager Darrin Gordon said the average household uses 4,000 gallons per month, meaning the increase will result in an average monthly bill increase of 32 cents. The water commodity rate was last increased two years ago, also by 8 cents.
BPW directors have budgeted just over $3 million toward capital projects in the 2021-22 fiscal year. The biggest-ticket item is $800,000 for water main abandonment on Pilottown Road. This is the second year of the project, which cost $2.18 million last year.
The BPW is budgeting $500,000 for a new water facility and well on New Road. The facility will be built in the Tower Hill subdivision, but will serve all current and future New Road customers.
In the wastewater area, the BPW plans to spend $460,000 to service and clean out the Pilottown Road sewer system. They have also budgeted $350,000 for Cedar Street sewer lining and $298,000 for manhole lining.