Smyrna Town Council members had a lot to discuss at the Feb. 18 meeting including the police station expansion, the library project, and budgeting for the future.
Police Station expansion
What We Knew – Even though council members previously approved the $3.5 million police station expansion project, the topic was brought back to council for more discussion at the meeting.
What Was Discussed – The discussion on the police station expansion was two-fold. First council talked about whether or not to go to the bond market to pay for the project or to stick with the USDA loan they’ve already been approved for. Council also discussed whether or not to increase the budget for the project from $3.5 million with a $300,000 contingency to $4.2 million.
What Was Decided – Town Manager Dave Hugg said that while going to the bond market would allow the town to do more projects, he would still recommend using the USDA loan to fund the project.
Mayor Joanne Masten agreed: “I say we stick with USDA because I don’t want to approve financing for other capital projects unless I can see the list of projects and a dollar amount.”
As for the possibility of increasing the budget for the police station expansion, council members disagreed in many ways although few wanted to actually increase the budget to $4.2 million. The Finance Committee had previously recommended a budget increase so alternates such as a sally port and full basement could be added back into the project.
Councilwoman Valerie White said she’d rather have the sally port added back into the budget for safety reasons than have a full basement. Councilman Jeff Flairty suggested council not increase the budget, but to instead reduce the $300,000 contingency to pay for the $121,000 it would take to build the remainder of the basement.
Council voted to reduce the contingency to pay for the basement rather than increase the budget for the alternates.
Library project update
What We Knew – Last year Smyrna Town Council voted to take the reins of the Smyrna Public Library project to build a new facility. Since then council members and town staff have worked to find the best way to get the new building built with the help of the county, state and other local towns.
What Was Discussed – Masten said council members and town staff have met with the Smyrna Public Library Guild, Kent County Levy Court, and local legislators on the topic. They are working on creating a library tax that would help fund the library. She said the town will have to raise upwards of $4.5 million to build a new library; the state will pay the other half. Moreover, she said the library would be modeled after the Milford library where a board governs the facility instead of the town.
What Was Done – Masten asked council to approve a motion allowing the town to put together a more detailed memorandum of understanding that will identify the town’s specific role with the project. Council passed a motion to create the memorandum of understanding.
Planning for the future
What We Knew – With the town of Smyrna having difficulties with the budgeting process, a subcommittee of the Finance Committee has created a three to five year plan to help guide the town in the future.
What Was Discussed – Finance Committee member Larry Graf presented council with the three to five year plan at the council meeting. Graf went over the work that was done. He said there were numerous projects, positions and pieces of equipment that need to be included in future budgets; however, taking everything out would still result in the town having a $1 million shortfall each year.
What Was Done – Council passed a motion to set a special meeting so council members could discuss how to best move forward with the budget.