Seaford passes $26 million break-even budget

By Lynn R. Parks

Other than an anticipated water system improvement project, to be paid for by federal stimulus money, the city of Seaford's 2010 budget contains very little money for capital improvements. "We reduced significantly the needs of the departments," city manager Dolores Slatcher told the city council before it approved the new budget Tuesday night. "There were some very legitimate capital expenses, but this budget just can't afford them this year." The 2010 budget also has no wiggle room: With $26,821,364 in expenses and the same amount in expenditures, it balances out to zero. "This was a very difficult budget," Mayor Ed Butler said. "The department heads were very conscientious in how they worked the numbers." The new budget contains a 1-cent increase in property taxes, from 26.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to 27.5 cents. That increase could be even higher, Slatcher said, depending on the results of several appeals of tax assessments that were filed Tuesday night.

About a dozen people were at the city council meeting to request that assessments on their properties be lowered. The budget also features an increase in electric rates, of 3/10s of a cent. A household using 1,000 kilowatt hours of power will see a $3 increase in its monthly bill. All other fees and rates remain the same as they were last year. The city closed down its pool, on which it spent $54,737 last year. It also opted not to fill a vacancy in the electric department. Included on the short list of capital improvements are: two new vehicles, one for the code department and the other, which will be paid for by a federal grant, for the police department; several new computers and printers; five new fire hydrants; a new pump at the wastewater treatment plant; and new bay walls at the compost center. The budget also includes a new generator switch at the utility building and partial funding for new windows at the Seaford Fire Hall, which is owned by the city.

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