Fenwick Officials Begin Proposed $2.6M Budget Review

FENWICK ISLAND – A Fenwick Island committee began its review of the fiscal year 2020 budget earlier this month.

On May 22, Town Manager Terry Tieman presented the Fenwick Island Budget Committee with a total proposed budget of $2,634,896 for the coming fiscal year.

The draft spending plan includes an operating budget of $2,188,708.

Property taxes, rental receipt tax and building permits make up more than 60% of proposed revenues. However, it still leaves the town with a shortfall of more than $119,000.

Tieman noted transfer tax and rental receipts are projected to decrease by $41,000 and $12,000, respectively, in the coming year.

“Transfers to the general fund are budgeted lower at $175,000, or down 19%,” she said. “And rental receipts are projected lower due to the temporary closing of the Sands Motel. We won’t be getting gross rental receipts from them, which is about $12,000.”

This year’s proposed operating budget includes $772,661 for the Fenwick Island Police Department, $434,716 for general government, $387,005 for administration, $337,022 for beach patrol and $257,304 for public works.

“This is a tough budget year …,” Tieman said. “It’s tough in the sense that the RTT (realty transfer tax) funds are not coming in at what we anticipated it to come in at, the revenues are down there, and the building permits are starting to come down a little bit.”

To that end, committee members this week discussed at length ways to cut costs and generate additional revenue for the town in light of recent funding challenges.

In a review of the town’s fee schedule, for example, committee members questioned if the town should reconsider extending parking hours for the next summer season. Earlier this month, the town council voted against the finance committee’s recommendation to extend paid parking from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I still think we should revisit this parking thing,” Councilwoman Julie Lee said. “We keep saying we don’t know how much revenue we are doing to get, but we’ve never looked at having parking to 6 o’clock.”

To that end, the committee made a favorable recommendation to send the proposal back to the town council for discussion and possible action.

The budget committee this week also made a favorable recommendation to increase bonfire fees from $75 to $100 effective May 15, 2020.

“It’s not an anti-business move,” Councilwoman Vicki Lee said of the parking recommendation. “Let’s take care of the town. We’ve got things we do that cost money.”

The proposed budget also includes $446,188 in capital expenses for the coming year. The town has budgeted $37,000 for a new police car and $409,188 for various public works projects.

“The biggest one this year is the street project,” Tieman said. “We just finished phase one of the project … but the second phase is really overlay work, which is much different than microsurfacing. That will cost $382,988.”

Tieman said the town had proposed other projects and purchased, but deferred them to out years in an effort to balance the budget.

The committee will continue its discussion of the proposed budget in meetings scheduled for June.

The budget is adopted annually each July and takes effect August 1.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.