Smyrna Town Council members discussed a lot at the Sept. 16 council meeting including a donation to the Smyrna/Clayton Ministerium and a subdivision application approval for KRM Development Inc. on Paddock Road, which were reported in the Sept. 18 and Sept. 25 editions of the Sun-Times.
Here are a few other items brought up at the meeting.
Utility Committee update
Councilman Jeff Flairty updated council on several items discussed at the September Utility Committee meeting.
Along with working on the anticipated contribution from utilities for the budget process, the committee also got some information regarding the cost of power in 2014.
"For those that don't know, there has been a fairly substantial reduction in the cost of electricity the last few years. We were hoping it'd continue the next two years; it won't increase but the reduction is a little less than we hoped," Flairty said.
Advice about late utility bills
Flairty also touched on the late payment of utility bills.
"If you miss a bill or are late, it's critical for you to try and get current as quickly as possible because fees and late fees tend to accumulate over time so residents tend to incur bigger costs burdens than the original bill," Flairty said. "So the sooner you pay it off the better or come into town hall and discuss it with staff at the front desk and we'll get it resolved as quickly as possible. Don't stick your head in the sand. Get it resolved as quickly as possible."
Councilman Robert Johnson provided council with an update on the town's finances.
"A lot of times to make a decision we need to have the information in front of us," Johnson said.
There's a deficit in the General Fund of roughly $331,000. However, the town currently has surpluses in the Water Sewer Fund and Electric Fund.
Johnson said overall the town has a net surplus of roughly $1 million.
Public Safety Committee Chair Larry Thornton gave council members an update on what the committee discussed at the September committee meeting.
First, the committee discussed speed limit concerns on Carter Road. Thornton said several residents, including Kent County Levy Court President Brooks Banta, voiced concerns with the speed limit being too high on Carter Road.
Thornton said the reasons for the concerns include the multiple driveways, development entrances and the fact the road will have an improved bike path once the DelDOT Carter Road project is complete.
Thornton said the committee would like council to consider reducing the speed limit.
There was also a discussion regarding getting more speed radar signs in town. Thornton said Rep. Bill Carson (D-Smyrna) agreed to fund the signs.
Carter Road project update
As for the Carter Road project, Thornton said the project was discussed with area engineer Craig Blowers. Thornton said the project is still on schedule, weather permitting. Major curb work has been done; DelDOT still needs to do some deep milling on the road. The project is expected to be complete in late November/early December.
Traffic at Smyrna Elementary
Thornton also provided an update on the congestion issues at Smyrna Elementary. He said the parking/pick up problems at the school have been reduced this year due in part to the cooperation of the staff members refraining from parking on School Lane.
"This is a positive result of a meeting we had with the school district earlier this summer. Minor changes like that brought big changes as the end result."
5K at town park
Town Manager Dave Hugg said he and Police Chief Wil Bordley are reviewing an application and permit request from the Krysti Bingham Cerebral Palsy Foundation for a fundraiser on Nov. 16 at George C. Wright Jr. Municipal Park; Hugg and Bordley approving the application and permit falls under their administrative authority but since it'll be a significant fundraiser, they simply wanted to let council know the two are moving forward with it.
If eventually approved, the event will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hugg said. There will be a 5K and other events at the fundraiser.
"It sounds like a very good event," Hugg said.
Rainy Day Fund change tabled
Council tabled the revision of the Rainy Day Fund. Johnson had asked to rewrite the provision for the fund to create a budget reserve fund to make it more consistent with proper accounting procedures.
However, council discussions led to several suggested changes. A few council members feared changing the fund would make it easier for future council's to use money. More specifically, Flairty doesn't want the fund to be used to deal with a budgetary shortfall.
"I don't want to change access to that account. I want to keep it the way it is because maybe this council won't do it but we can't guarantee the next council won't do it," Flairty said. "I don't want to make it easier for them to do something like waive that account to use for excessive spending when they need to make the difficult decisions."
Ultimately town lawyer Barrett Edwards said the town could leave the Rainy Day Fund as it is but to change the name to Budget Reserve Fund and put language in the ordinance to make sure it shows up in the general fund for accounting purposes.
Library site location reconfirmed
Council approved a resolution that ratified the town's decision to authorize a portion of the municipal parking lot be designated as future library use. Council members previously approved the designation of the land as the future library site but since the item was a last minute addition to the council agenda, council needed to approve a resolution to ratify the approval.
Town signage concerns
Councilman John Embert asked for an item to be added to the agenda for the next Public Safety Committee agenda.
Embert said it seems some areas of town may have missing speed limit signs, yield signs, children at play signs and more.
"We should really take the time to analyze the town and make sure all the property signage is out there throughout the town," Embert said.