Fiscal Review Raises Concerns

BERLIN- Concerns regarding the town’s stormwater fund highlighted a six-month financial review in Berlin.

On Monday, Finance Director Natalie Saleh presented elected officials with a six-month review of the town’s finances, as the end of the calendar year marked the halfway point for the current fiscal year. Saleh said stormwater was the primary area of concern.

“It definitely needs to be looked at,” she said. “So far, the service charges, which is the stormwater residential and commercial (fees), it’s barely enough to cover the personnel and the day-to-day operating costs.”

Saleh said revenues for fiscal year 2020 are budgeted at $6,399,098.  So far, the town has collected $4.5 million halfway through the fiscal year. Expenditures, which are budgeted at $6,449,098 for fiscal year 2020, are currently at $3.2 million.

Saleh said the electric fund was doing well, as $3 million in revenues had been collected and expenses amounted to $2 million so far this fiscal year.

She reported that the water fund was also in good shape, as expenses were on target and revenues were $12,000 more than expected.

The town’s sewer fund at this point in the fiscal year has brought in revenues of $1,030,644 and faced expenditures of $1,019,872. Saleh pointed out that revenues were $15,000 above expenditures.

In the stormwater fund, however, expenditures are $156,712 over revenues. Saleh said much of that would be made up when the town’s receipt of grants related to the submerged gravel wetland project were included in the tally.

“This particular summary is showing that the stormwater is under by $156,000 but like I mentioned we’re receiving the grants for the capital items,” she said.

She added, however, that there was still cause for concern because revenue was barely sufficient to cover operating costs. Mayor Gee Williams agreed and said that officials would be reviewing stormwater fees in the coming months.

“It’s something we’re going to have to look at,” he said, indicating that the town still had major stormwater projects that needed to be funded.

Another expense that officials expressed concern about Monday was the rising cost of emergency services. Williams said the town’s emergency response expenses were high because of its proximity to Ocean City.

“They’re coming right through our town limits and that impacts the cost,” he said.

Williams went on to announce that the town would introduce the proposed tax rate for the coming fiscal year on March 9. The town is next scheduled to discuss finances at a 6:30 p.m. work session on Feb. 10.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.