Dewey meeting a quiet affair; town tackles variety of topics

by Michael Short on October 10, 2010

By Michael Short

Dewey Beach tackled a multitude of issues at the town’s Oct. 9 commissioner’s meeting, many of them routine procedural matters.

The town commissioners re-appointed committee chairs, heard priorities for the infrastructure and budget committees, moved the next meeting date to Nov. 6  and considered an evaluation process for the city manager.

But the town also heard an update on the recent election and will wade into the issue of whether or not limited liability corporations (LLC) should have voting rights.

At the urging of Commissioner Jim Laird, the town will also consider adding a monthly workshop session to help prepare for the regular monthly meeting.

Both the LLC and the workshop session idea will be considered in the future, but they were discussed briefly at Saturday’s session.

The commissioners had a long executive session to discuss litigation, but did not vote on any matters discussed in that session.

The bid for the Bayard Avenue project will be awarded on November 6, which prompted the change in the town meeting schedule. If the date had not been changed, a special meeting at the end of October would have been held.

Laird said the possible workshop sessions would be held two weeks prior to the regular commissioner meeting and could be used to consider history, check the town code and do fact finding.

Laird said it would help the commissioners to gather background and be better prepared for the regular sessions. There would be no votes taken in the workshop sessions and they would be open to the public like any regular meeting.

The town may or may not decide to allow public comments during workshop sessions. There was no action taken on the idea on Saturday. “I just wanted to put it out there,” Laird said.

On the issue of voting rights, the town’s election committee asked the town to look into the issue of LLC’s at a future meeting. Beverely Corelle of the election committee said that after considering the issue, it seemed to become increasingly complex and the committee became convinced that the commissioners should consider the issue.

Town rules currently do not allow LLC’s to be considered as eligible voters. No action was taken, but it is expected to be considered at a later time.

Corelle reported that there were 457 absentee voters and 423 voters who used the voting machines in last month’s town election. She said that 525 absentee ballots were distributed, but 68 were not counted.

That’s because 14 were returned late and 54 were not returned at all.

Dewey Beach Police Chief Sam Mackert said that the summer appeared to go reasonably well. Mackert said that the number of serious incidents like assaults or rapes was down this year. While some always occur, they decreased in 2010.

It was the first meeting as mayor for Diane Hanson and she told the audience that the town has made tremendous progress in the last two years and that she will continue efforts to increase professionalism.

At her urging, none of the commissioners are heading the town’s various committees.

Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rick Judge drew a few gasps of surprise from the audience when he said one of the committee priorities this year will be to consider the feasibility of burying Dewey Beach’s utility poles and lines underground.

Laird suggested that the town consider a reverse 911 system that could notifiy residents of newsletters, voting deadlines etc. He said that such a system could be developed for perhaps as little as 50 cents per home.

Marc Appelbaum, who will remain as head of the budget committee, told the commissioners that budget committee priorities will include providing early warnings of potential problems and providing review and feedback regarding the budget for the following year.

Laird urged residents to contribute to the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company using a United Way direct contribution with the fire company code of 9324 and Town Manager Diana Smith reminded people that October is breast cancer month.

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