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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Smyrna Mayor Joanne Masten releases first quarterly report for 2014

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  • Dear Citizens of Smyrna:
    After a long and cold winter season, spring is finally here!
    It’s time to enjoy the great outdoors again! I encourage you and your family to spend time in one of our beautiful parks, take a leisurely stroll through downtown, or get your blood pumping with a power walk or bike ride on the trail behind Smyrna High School. What a great way to get fit and to spend time enjoying our charming landscape!
    Mark your calendars! The Smyrna Farmers Market will return this summer on Thursday evenings beginning June 12. The Farmers Market will offer a great assortment of items including: farm-fresh produce, fresh-baked goods, homemade soaps and herbal products, local honey products, homemade jams and jellies, and other items crafted by local-artisans. New vendors are always welcome!
    Finally, I am pleased to submit my third quarterly report to the citizens of Smyrna. The report, covering the period December 2013 to March 2014, highlights the various activities and initiatives undertaken by the town. The report features updates from town departments including Planning and Zoning, Public Works, Accounting and Business Services, Building and Inspections, and the Public Library. For the report, go online to scsuntimes.com or Smyrna.delaware.gov/.
    On behalf of the entire Smyrna Town Council and all town employees, we wish you a very happy spring!
    Respectfully,
    H. Joanne Masten
    Quarterly Departmental Updates, as of March 2014
    Accounting and Business Services Department
    Gary Stulir, Manager
    For the time period 12/1/2013 – 2/28/2014, the Accounting and Business Services Department (ABS) processed 15,873 individual payments totaling nearly $5 million. A significant portion of these individual payments were sent through the town’s lockbox. The lockbox is a safe, secure, bank-staffed process that offers a means of processing payments more efficiently, freeing up storage space. The Town also continues to administer the free in-house direct debit for utility payments. ABS also issued 639 checks totaling over $3.9 million.
    For the fourth year in a row, the ABS was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the town’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). 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 is one of only four municipalities in Delaware that have ever received the award.
    ABS is busily making preparations for the 2013 annual audit process. The audit, conducted by an independent accounting firm, is designed to ensure that the town’s financial statements clearly and fairly represent the actual financial position of our government.
    Internal human resources functions are also administered by this department. ABS senior staff continues to provide support for AFSCME contract negotiations to ensure both unionized town employees and town management work towards labor agreements that are fair and equitable for all parties. ABS also continues its work on the Police Pension Plan.
    Page 2 of 4 - Finally, in an effort to ensure our government is receiving the best service for the expense, ABS has recently conducted relationship review meetings with PNC Bank, and has also met with our accounting software provider to determine more efficient methods of utilizing existing systems and services.
    Building and Inspections Department
    Grant Prichard, Manager
    The Building and Inspections Department (B&I) has continued to address those properties throughout the community that have deteriorated, become eyesores, or have become a haven for unsavory behavior. Through enforcement of the town’s dangerous building, vacant building, and property maintenance ordinances, many problem properties that were once unoccupied, unkempt, and uncharacteristic of the surrounding neighborhood have now been rehabilitated or demolished, thus restoring a sense of community pride and neighborhood stability.
    B&I is also the department responsible for the issuance of building permits. The permit is an official document that authorizes the alteration, demolition, construction, enlargement, movement, repair, removal, or replacement of any building or structure, or any attachment (such as a porch or patio) to a building or structure.
    Below is a chart depicting the number and valuation of building permits issued by B&I for the period December 2013 – February 2014:
    Type of construction
    • sign - quantity, 7; construction value, $23,865; permit fee, $1,214; Totals, $1,214.
    • single family - quantity, 10; construction value, $1,417,330; permit fee, $16,504; C of O Fees $400; total, $16,904.
    • duplex - quantity, 2; construction value, $215,868; permit fee, $2,280; C of O Fees, $80; totals, $2,360.
    • addition, decks, etc. - quantity, 3; construction value, $217,500; permit fee, $2,485; C of O Fee, $40; totals, $2,525.
    • renovation - quantity, 9; construction value, $33,698; permit fee, $668; totals, $668.
    • accessory structures - quantity, 1; construction value, $1,669; permit fee, $51; totals, $51.
    • shed - quantity, 1; construction value, $5,000; permit fee, $84; totals, $84.
    • miscellaneous - quantity, 2; construction value, $9,201; permit fee, $168; totals, $168.
    • Total - quantity, 25; construction value, $1,978,131; permit fees, $23,454; C of O Fees, $520; totals, $23,974.
    Library
    Beverly Hirt, Manager
    Staff of the Smyrna Public Library continue their dedication to providing an environment where life long learning is encouraged, creativity is nurtured, and all residents are welcomed.
    This year’s Winter Reading Program Challenge, themed Chasing the Blues Away, was held from December 2013 – February 2014. Library staff was pleased to have so many members of community participating and reading books outside of their usual genre. Special recognition goes to the following residents for completing the challenge: Donna Shahan, Naomi Seely, Carol Palmer, Kim Klecan, Ruth Bower, and Penny Harper.
    Library Staff participated in a Customer Service Training Program presented by the Delaware Division of Libraries. The training covered topics such as: Service Purpose, Service Standards, and Service Behaviors: safety, courtesy, knowledge, and efficiency.
    Page 3 of 4 - Finally, Library Staff participated in the 2014 I Love Smyrna School District Day held this past February where they gave out hundreds of free books and encouraged reading among children and their families.
    Planning and Zoning Department
    Janet Vinc, Manager
    The Planning and Zoning Department and the P&Z Commission continue their important work drafting regulations for a new zoning district, the North Corridor (NC) Zoning District. The NC Zoning District will apply to those parcels fronting U.S. Route 13, from Duck Creek, north the S.R. 1 interchange. The purpose the NC Zoning District is to provide regulations and graphic design standards to enhance both the function and the appearance of the U.S. Route 13 Corridor through the implementation of strategies outlined in both the Smyrna U.S. 13 Corridor Plan and Design Book and the Town of Smyrna Comprehensive Plan.
    These strategies include:
    • Construct buildings close to the roadway that possess an architectural form and theme reflective of the character of Smyrna’s Historic District;
    • Provide retail and service establishments that supply commodities or perform services that will meet the needs of adjacent residential neighborhoods as well as the needs of travelers and visitors;
    • Allow greater diversity of housing choices by permitting residential uses located directly above first floor retail or office space;
    • Convenient and controlled vehicular access onto U.S. Route 13, reducing the need for additional curb cuts and promoting interconnectivity between lots;
    • Off-street parking located at the rear or side of the buildings, reducing the visual impact of parking lots;
    • Improved pedestrian and multi-modal connectivity and safety by requiring sidewalks, crosswalks, streetlights, walking trails, and bike racks;
    • Promote “complete” site design through various design standards, such as landscaping, decorative elements, interconnectivity and open space requirements;
    • Reduce the visual clutter of various types of existing signage along the corridor and implement consistent standards regulating the height, placement, lighting and materials.
    Finally, the ever popular Smyrna Farmers Market will return this summer on Thursday evenings, beginning June 12 through August 28, outside next to the Smyrna Public Library. More details are soon to come!
    Public Works/Electric Department
    Bill Evans, Interim Director
    Public Works Staff were extremely busy this winter with the overabundance of snow, sleet, and ice. Dedicated personnel worked tirelessly through the nights and early mornings plowing snow and making our roadways safe for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
    Electric Department Staff have been carefully planning for the installation of energy efficient lighting along the bike/walking path located behind the Smyrna High and Middle Schools. This improvement will enhance public safety in a heavily utilized recreational area. Electric utility improvements also continue in the Christina Apartments and Brenford Station II neighborhoods.
    Page 4 of 4 - Public Works continues its replacement of impellers in the Gate Way North and the New Street Pump Stations. This replacement has become necessary due to the large quantity of foreign objects being needlessly flushed down toilets. This has created numerous clogs in the impellers, which therefore causes the town to expend numerous staff hours and financial resources addressing the problem.
    The Department also continues to plan for the forthcoming renovations to Commerce Street which are scheduled to begin later this spring.

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