City passes $26 million budget

By Lynn R. Parks

For the first time, the city of Seaford budget has a "municipal golf fund." The $26 million budget, which was approved by the city council Tuesday night, expects the city's newly-acquired golf course to take in about $1.007 million.

A transfer of about $77,000 from the city's electric fund will enable the golf course to pay its anticipated $1.084 million in expenses. The golf course, formerly part of the Seaford Golf and Country Club which was bought by the city last month, is expected to open in July. The city's new 2011 budget gives the electric fund a small boost. Starting in July, a hike of 1 cent per 100 kilowatt hours of power goes into effect. The current charge of 28 cents per 100 kilowatt hours will go up to 29 cents per 100 kilowatt hours.

City electricity users will also pay an additional 2.17 cents per 100 kilowatt hours to make up for undercharges in fiscal year 2010. In total, the average household, which uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours of power a month, will see about a $3 increase in its monthly power bill. Property owners in Seaford will also pay more in property tax. The city council approved a tax hike of 1 cent per $100 in assessed value, from 28 cents to 29 cents.

For a house assessed at $200,000, that will mean an additional $20 a year in property taxes.

All other city fees and rates, including charges for water and sewer, will remain the same. Seaford's new budget is balanced to the dollar. It is 2.24 percent smaller than last year's budget. "There is no excess," city manager Dolores Slatcher told the council. "But it is balanced." Paying for electric distribution is the largest part of the city's budget, costing nearly $13 million. Revenue from electric bills, $16.6 million, is also the largest part of the city's income.

In addition to the golf fund, the electric fund also helps support the general fund, with a transfer of $3.273 million. After the council voted unanimously to approve the budget, Mayor Ed Butler praised city departments for keeping expenses to a minimum. "I admire them for doing their best for the city of Seaford," he said. Slatcher cautioned that capital expenses, put on the back burner in the last several years, will soon become a necessity. "It will happen in the next two or three years that we will have to replace some things," she said.

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