The topic of future town finances continued to be discussed at the Smyrna Town Council meeting Monday night, but no action was taken regarding the town’s ever evolving Five Year Plan.
Councilman Robert Johnson presented the information in a PowerPoint at the meeting. At a glance, the town is still facing budget shortfalls in each of the coming years. The General Fund is the culprit for the budget woes as Johnson pointed out the General Fund has an expected deficit every year. Even with surpluses in the Water-Sewer Fund and Electric Fund, the town faces a growing shortfall through 2019. Johnson continued to divulge the information including possible revenue sources, but the budget still shows a deficit.
Future projects were mentioned including electrical segment work, water enhancement projects, and old utility upgrades. Heavy equipment is also needed. The new library isn’t included in the budget, but the town isn’t responsible for building the project even though it is helping to facilitate the project.
Johnson said the only way to address the deficit, other than cost saving measures and finding some way to increase revenues, would be tax increases.
After the presentation Mayor Joanne Masten reminded everyone this is the first time the town is embarking on a multi-year budgeting plan.
“It may look bleak but we are creating a plan to move forward,” Masten said.
Later in the meeting, Councilman John Embert took issue with the lack of action on the agenda item.
“I’m confused. Council asked the Finance Committee to come up with a plan and we do nothing,” Embert said.
A few council members, including Councilwoman Valerie White, said she wasn’t ready to lock anything in having just seen the Five Year Plan. Councilman Anthony DeFeo said some implementation steps in the plan are unrelated to others and as a whole will take time to digest.
Embert said the 3-to-5 Year Plan Subcommittee and the Finance Committee both approved the plan last week; therefore, council should’ve had access sooner.
Electrical outage issues
Town Manager Dave Hugg said the town will continue to address the recent string of electrical outages, the most recent being two weeks ago. Hugg said town officials have already met with Delaware Electric Municipal Corporation (DEMEC) officials and will also meet with Delmarva Power before the week is out.
Hugg said all involved pretty much agree in a cause and a possible solution.
“Hopefully we can prevent it from happening again. I will keep you advised,” Hugg said.
Commerce Street project continues
The utility work in the Commerce Street project is nearing completion on West Commerce Street. Hugg said work on the east side of Commerce Street could begin as early as next week.
The town is currently replacing the water and sewer pipes on Commerce Street from Market Street to East Street. The water pipe portion is being done through a $1 million Office of Drinking Water loan, while the sewer portion is being done through a $917,000 DNREC loan.
Work is being done Sunday through Thursday night from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Smyrna library gets $40,000 donation
Kent County Levy Court President Brooks Banta gave the town a $40,000 donation from Levy Court for the Smyrna Public Library. Banta said the donation is due in part to the town and the Smyrna Public Library Guild working well together on the new library project.
“This is one of several checks that will be coming,” Banta said.