Similar to many local businesses and municipalities, Rehoboth Beach had a difficult time filling summer positions last year. Trying to not have those issues repeated this summer, City Manager Sharon Lynn has introduced a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that increases the hourly pay rate for most summer positions.
Rehoboth Beach’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31. Commissioners began discussing the city’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget during a special meeting Jan. 10.
At the request of department heads, Lynn has proposed a budget that sees an increase to the base hourly rate for police cadets, lifeguards and parking permit sales staff. All the rates will increase from less than $15 an hour to at least $16 an hour. Pay for seasonal staff from the public works department will be discussed at a future meeting, but Lynne Coan, city spokesperson, said in an email Jan. 13 that an increase for those positions has also been proposed.
There’s also a proposed increase in the base hourly rate for 911 dispatch employees from $16 an hour to $18.31. Police Chief Keith Banks said this will also help the department be more competitive.
Overall, Lynn’s budget comes in at roughly $29.4 million, which represents about a 6 percent increase over the current fiscal year budget of $27.7 million. A little more than $11 million of the $29.4 amount is earmarked for the city’s water and wastewater systems.
As of now, there’s about a $65,000 increase in the police department budget from this year to next – $3.13 million to $3.19 million – but the city is in the middle of negotiating its contract with the police union, so the final numbers are yet to be determined.
Lynn said she hopes to have those negotiations concluded by the end of February, in time for firm numbers to be included in the final budget presentation.
As for total revenue, the city is projecting about $2.04 million in property taxes, $1.7 million in transfer taxes, $2 million in rental tax, $1.7 million in hotel tax, about $6.4 million in parking-related revenue, roughly $6.5 million in wastewater revenue, and approximately $4.7 million in water fund revenue.
The city’s 5-year capital improvement plan was not discussed during the recent meeting. However, the plan was included as part of the meeting documents online, and it has a proposed budget of $6.45 million, up from the current year’s approved total of $4.7 million.
As in the past few years, there’s money – $550,000 – in the budget for 79 new parking meters. The majority of them would replace the aging meters on Rehoboth Avenue, but three would be installed in the Deauville Beach parking lot. If those meters are installed, it would eliminate the need for two attendants, and it would also mean people with parking permits for non-metered areas could not use the parking lot without using the meter. This would be a change to current practice.
Lynn has proposed the creation of an assistant city manager position. If approved, she said Projects Coordinator Evan Miller would be promoted to fill the spot. The exact responsibilities of the position have yet to be determined, but Lynn is expected to meet with the city’s personnel committee in the coming weeks to define what they’ll be.
Currently, there are no increases proposed in parking-related fees, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any. The commissioners conducted a brief discussion on the subject, but decided to do more research and come back during the next meeting with the results and any proposals.
Commissioners are scheduled to resume budget discussions Friday, Jan. 21. Typically, commissioners approve the budget during their monthly meeting in March, which this year will be Friday, March 18.