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Sussex Countian
  • Special Smyrna council meeting yields some answers

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  • Smyrna Town Council held a special council meeting Aug. 28 to continue discussions on the proposed police station.
    Council voted to move forward with the expansion in early August after learning of possible USDA funding. However, the discussions have continued since then.
    Four members of Smyrna Town Council asked for the meeting as they felt there needed to be some sort of clarification on several topics including how much the town could afford the proposed expansion and the possible impact on residents.
    Councilwoman Valerie White said this discussion has gone on long enough and they need to make an actual decision. Councilwoman Joanne Masten wanted information on how much it would cost to operate a larger.
    While council members wanted questions answered, some didn't feel the need for the meeting. "I think we need to stay on the course we're going down in the Finance Committee meetings," said Councilman Bob Johnson.
    Johnson, who is a member of the committee, has reiterated over and over again the Finance Committee wont' know of the impact of the project until the 2013 budget is done.
    Needs vs. benefits
    Talk on the subject went back and forth as council members had a variety of questions and concerns.
    One question asked by a few council members, including Councilman Jeff Flairty, was that of the specific needs of the project and the aspects seen as beneficial, but not necessarily needed. Flairty basically wanted to know if certain aspects of the $4.9 proposed expansion could be cut to make the project cost less.
    On hand to answer such questions were the individuals responsible for the feasibility study: Ken Fearn and Wayde Clendaniel of Fearn-Clendaniel Architects, Inc. and Ed Ide, of engineering and construction management firm i3a.
    Clendaniel said there are only a few things they could cut out of the project such as a tactical training room and storage, which adds up to $400,000. "All the other aspects are things you absolutely need," Clendaniel said.
    Impact on residents
    Another concern has been the impact on the residents. When the feasibility results were initially released this spring, it was stated that the project would be a 4.5-cent tax increase per $100,000 of assessed value, or $45 per year. At the special council meeting, the tax increase discussed was slightly lower though. Flairty said based on the numbers provided to him by the town's manager of accounting Gary Stulir, the tax increase would be 4.22-cents per $100,000 of assessed value.
    "Last year we had three cent tax increase, this [4.22 cents] is just for the police station expansion alone," Flairty said.
    And the debate continues
    Page 2 of 2 - Council continued to ask questions to see if there was anything else they could possibly cut to make the cost of the expansion cheaper, but some questions couldn't be answered. Flairty asked could the feasibility study be modified, if approved.
    Id said yes: "If you approve the feasibility study, it doesn't mean you approve a $4.9 million expansion or the plan."
    Since voting on the feasibility study wasn't on the agenda, council couldn't vote but would continue discussions with a possible vote at the Sept. 4 council meeting.
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.

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