Dear Citizens of Smyrna,
I am pleased to submit the first in a series of quarterly reports outlining the accomplishments and major initiatives of the Town of Smyrna, Delaware. Despite economic challenges, our community continues to develop and welcomes new friends and neighbors year after year. Our success is largely due to the dedication of the 100 men and women comprising the municipal workforce who are working diligently to make my vision for innovation, excellence, and unparalleled customer service a reality for the citizens and guests of Smyrna.
All town employees take seriously a fundamental responsibility to be good stewards of your tax dollars. We strive to make prudent and thoughtful decisions concerning the money that comes in to the government and how it is allocated and spent. Further, upon taking office this past April, I challenged my employees to do more with less, to become more efficient and more creative, and to develop new performance standards. I am pleased to report they have met the challenge head on.
While town officials and employees are doing their part to keep Smyrna on a path to prosperity, we cannot do it alone. We need the energy, enthusiasm, and participation of all residents. You can help by attending community events, patronizing hometown businesses, volunteering with a local nonprofit organization, mentoring young people, or by simply keeping your neighborhood neat and tidy. Together we can continue Smyrna's development as the perfect place to live, work, and raise a family.
H. Joanne Masten
Quarterly Departmental Update, April 2013 – July 2013
Town Manager's Office
David S. Hugg, III, Town Manager
With the assistance of State Senator Bruce Ennis and State Representative William Carson, Smyrna will soon receive 1.57 acres of surplus state land for a future water tower and/or other public use. The land, located along the southbound side of U.S. Route 13, is valued at over $221,000. This conveyance helps to meet the town's long-range infrastructure needs and saves taxpayers thousands of dollars in future real estate costs.
Town Council's Economic Development Committee has been re-established and now has a sharper focus, along with development of economic development goals and strategies, to guide the town's continuing efforts to attract and retain businesses. Town staff also participates in the Kent County Economic Development Roundtable, the Greater Kent Committee, and the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce to improve coordination, cooperation, and to help raise the awareness of Kent County as a sustainable place to grow business.
Additionally, the Town Manager's Office has embarked upon an aggressive public relations campaign which includes frequent outreach to the public and media to inform the community of Smyrna's accomplishments and vision for the future. Outreach materials include the creation of brochures and other marketing resources which encourage visitors to come enjoy the rich historical and cultural heritage of Smyrna. The brochures have been widely distributed throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Page 2 of 5 - Accounting and Business Services Department
Gary Stulir, Manager
The overall mission of the Accounting and Business Services Department is to ensure that the town continues to meet its budgetary and operational goals and objectives in the most cost efficient and effective manner.
The department recently completed the 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and submitted the document to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) in consideration of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. The CAFR validates how we have met our fiduciary responsibility to protect the town's physical assets, service public debt and prudently manage all revenues for the benefit of our citizens. Smyrna has received the GFOA award for the past three consecutive years and is one of only four municipalities in Delaware that have ever received the award.
As the department manages numerous accounting and financial management services, staff participated in essential training and continuing education opportunities which complemented their existing skills and has led to increased productivity and overall operational efficiency. This included training provided by the GFOA as well as SunGard Public Sector, a leading provider of software and services for local governments, public safety and justice agencies, and nonprofits.
For the time period 4/1/2013 – 6/30/2013, the department processed over 17,000 different payments totaling nearly $8million. The department also processed 995 payable checks totaling nearly $5.5million.
Building and Inspections Department
Grant Prichard, Manager
The Department of Building and Inspections supports the health, safety, and quality of life for the residents and visitors of Smyrna through enforcement of the International Code Council Building Code. The permitting and inspection process promotes high quality design standards as well as the historic conservation and redevelopment of the town's existing buildings.
As of the end of June 2013, the department issued 163 building permits. These permits included three apartment buildings, sixteen single family homes, six duplexes, seven townhomes, two commercial structures, and forty-nine additions/renovations of existing properties.
During the same time period, the department also issued 369 code enforcement notices and actions. These included violations for abandoned vehicles, overgrown grass and vegetation, trash and debris, animal issues, and property maintenance.
Information Technology and Billing Department
James Markow, Manager
The Information Technology Department (IT) manages numerous government functions including utility and tax billing, computer systems management, and voter operations. IT staff works diligently to improve the internal systems that not only enable town employees to work more efficiently, but also enhance the overall customer experience for our residents. As such, the department has several initiatives underway in support of that goal.
The department has recently signed a contract to install a new meter reading system that allows reading of electric and water meters remotely. This will give the town the ability to determine if a water leak is present and further enables us to take corrective action before our residents realize there was ever a problem.
Page 3 of 5 - The town's social media presence is maintained daily by IT staff. The web page (www.smyrna.delaware.gov), Facebook and Twitter are used to keep our residents informed of the most current municipal news, information, and employment opportunities.
The department implemented a new online bill pay and bill print. Utility bills have taken on a new look that shows both current and past usage. Bills can now be reprinted and sent electronically either by fax or email. Additionally, the town now accepts Visa® online and over the telephone.
Beverly Hirt, Manager
Since January 2013, the Smyrna Public Library has welcomed over 35,000 visitors. Established in 1858, the library has a total circulation of 21,285. With its popular summer reading program and a wide variety of other signature programs, such as Tiny Tots Story Time and Writers Peer to Peer Group, the library connects the community to free educational and cultural resources that enrich the lives of visitors and residents alike.
Planning and Zoning Department
Janet Vinc, Manager
The U.S. 13 Corridor Plan was adopted on June 17, 2013 as an amendment to the Town's Comprehensive Plan. The U.S. 13 Corridor Plan has been developed to provide a long-range land use and transportation master plan for U.S. Route 13 through Smyrna that will help guide future land use designs and related transportation improvements.
In summary, the Corridor Plan is comprised of three distinct areas (north, central, and south) each having unique land use, transportation, social, economic, and natural characteristics. Recommendations were then developed to address the specific needs of each respective area. As the plan was finalized, there were several common themes that arose:
- Improve pedestrian connectivity both along U.S. 13 and when attempting to cross U.S. 13
- Develop an architectural theme along U.S. 13 that ties into the Smyrna Historic District
- Develop a streetscape plan along U.S. 13 to provide residents and visitors with a unique "sense of place"
More information about the U.S. 13 Corridor Plan is available on the town website at www.smyrna.delaware.gov.
Other activities and initiatives include:
The Smyrna Farmers Market, now in its second season, opened on June 15 and operates every Saturday, rain or shine, until October 5 from 9:00am – 1:00pm on the Market Street Plaza in downtown Smyrna. The market offers a great assortment of items including: farm fresh produce, fresh-baked goods, homemade soaps and herbal products, local honey products, homemade jams and jellies, all-natural meat products, free-range eggs and other items crafted by local artisans.
The George C. Wright, Jr. Municipal Park, located on North Main Street, was formally dedicated on June 15 with the unveiling of a monument in honor of the former mayor and his many years of service and dedication to our citizens.
Page 4 of 5 - Police Department
Wilbert R. Bordley, Chief of Police
Over the years, the men and women of the Smyrna Police Department (SPD) have worked tirelessly to create a safe and secure environment where residents and visitors alike are able to live, work, and enjoy everyday life. They accomplish this goal by building productive relationships with the community, enforcing the law in an impartial manner, and preserving the peace and order in our neighborhoods. This report highlights many of SPD's efforts over the past six months.
The town has secured $4.9 million from the United States Department of Agriculture to expand and remodel the Smyrna Police Station located on Glenwood Avenue. To accommodate the expansion, the neighboring vacant town-owned building will be demolished in August 2013.
Community policing efforts continue to be an integral part of SPD's mission. In 2013, the department participated in the following events:
- Memorial Day Parade
- Independence Day Parade, Carnival, and Fireworks Celebration
- Firefly 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Smyrna Police Athletic League
- Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics
- Smyrna High School Parade
All residents are also invited to participate in the town's ninth annual National Night Out to be held on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. This popular and informative event, held simultaneously in communities across the nation, is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anticrime efforts, and strengthen police-community partnerships. SPD officers will be on hand to talk to residents and business owners about crime prevention techniques.
SPD teamed up with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the sixth annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day held this past April 2013. The community has embraced the opportunity these Take-Back Day events provide to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. Unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern, because they are highly susceptible to accidental ingestion, diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high--more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
SPD's Quality of Life Unit has provided excellent public service over the past few months. In their first quarter, the Unit handled 807 calls, which included 203 traffic summons, 110 traffic warnings, 122 property checks, and 27 drug/criminal arrests. The Unit also seized 27.9 grams of marijuana, 4.1 grams of crack cocaine, $1,400 in cash, and one handgun. Four local fugitives and two DUI's were captured as well.
In May 2013, a three-month joint investigation with the SPD, the DEA, and the Delaware State Police resulted in one of the largest heroin seizures in Smyrna's history. The investigation led to the apprehension of Rodney L. Miller, who had been under investigation for selling large amounts of heroin in the Kent County area. Mr. Miller had an active capias for his arrest from the Kent County Court of Common Pleas and was intercepted in front of his residence on Beadle Street in Smyrna. He had 1,169 bags of suspected heroin in his possession at the time of arrest and an additional 13 bags of suspected heroin were recovered from inside of his residence. He was then was transported to the SPD where he was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a tier five quantity, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended/revoked license. Mr. Miller was presented at Justice of the Peace Court #2 via videophone and committed to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in default of a $65,000 cash only bond.
Page 5 of 5 - Public Works Department
Daryl Jester, Director
Earlier this year, the Department of Public Works began the extension of utilities north of Duck Creek. A twelve inch drinking water line is currently in place and accompanying sewer and electric services will be across the creek by early fall. Eventually services will be extended on the eastern side of U.S. Route 13 up to the state-owned Smyrna Rest Stop area. This initiative is important for stimulating economic development, redevelopment, and to offer quality public water and sewer service to this area. Future activities include the construction of a new regional sewer pump station to serve the area north of Duck Creek.
A copy of the town's recent Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report was mailed to all town residents. Smyrna's public water system is closely monitored and tested by the State of Delaware's
Office of Drinking Water and by Smyrna's Water Department employees. There are extensive State and Federal requirements that the town must comply with as a public water provider. If you did not receive a copy of the report via mail, you may download the full report at www.smyrna.delaware.gov.
Other activities and initiatives include:
Repair and resurfacing of major streets in the Glenwood Development began in late July. Activities included limited curb replacement, drainage and utility adjustments, milling, patching and a hot-mix overlay.
Ongoing electric system upgrades in the Green Meadows development are currently underway. The second phase of work is expected to be completed by the end of August 2013. Additionally, the department recently completed a force main and pump station project in Green Meadows as well.
With the unprecedented heavy rains we experienced this summer, the department continues to carefully monitor weather forecasts, areas of standing water such as Lake Como and Duck Creek, catch basins, storm drains, and other infrastructure to ensure the proper flow of rainwater and to decrease flooding.
In an effort to save tax dollars and provide better service, the department has used existing town staff to cut grass for the past year as opposed to contracting out the service.
Finally, in an effort to increase town-wide recycling rates, the department is currently exploring the viability and cost of an incentive based recycling program. Smyrna residents currently recycle about 20% of their household waste. Increasing the amount of recycled material saves the town, and ultimately all residents, money in landfill tipping fees.