Dover Chief of Police Jeffrey Horvath will retire from the city April 1, and take on the job as police chief in Lewes.

After 26 years on the force, Dover Police Chief Jeffrey Horvath announced March 22 he is retiring from his post, effective April 1.

Horvath has accepted the police chief’s job in Lewes and will be officially installed in that position April 12.

Maj. James Hosfelt, the Dover department’s second in command, will fill Horvath’s spot.

At the monthly City Council meeting, Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. told the panel he received Horvath’s letter of resignation March 19, and though he was somewhat surprised, he wishes the chief well.

“It was a real shock, of course,” Carey said. “He should be commended for all he has done in service to our city.”

The mayor highlighted Horvath’s achievements and his commitment to improving the police force, including a successful effort to have the department accredited three years in a row.

Choking back tears, Horvath thanked the mayor, council and the citizens of Dover for granting him the opportunity to serve as chief for nine years.

“I know sometimes I can be hard headed and fight for what I believe in, but that’s what you’ve paid me for,” he said. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to work here.”

Hosfelt, a 21-year veteran of the department, also expressed his gratitude for being chosen to be the next chief.

“I look forward to the challenges,” he said. “I have a lot to live up to.”

Horvath said his family will remain in Dover for the time being, at least until his son graduates from Caesar Rodney High School next year. After that, he said the family may or may not move to Lewes.

The outgoing chief said he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his career.

“I’m 46 years old and I’m not ready to leave law enforcement,” he said. “The two towns are very different, different challenges. But, it should be fun.”

In other business…

The city’s Utility Committee discussed plans to bring recycling collection services in-house, a move City Manager Tony DePrima said would save the city money.
Currently, the city pays the Delaware Solid Waste Authority $2 per month, per customer, to collect recyclables from approximately 85% of city residents.

DePrima announced that DSWA’s contract has been extended to July 1 at the same rate, but in the meantime the city should set itself up to take over recycling collection services.

A bid process related to the contract extension revealed that DSWA is the lowest-cost provider of recycling services, and DePrima said the city could meet or beat DSWA’s rates.

Moreover, DSWA plans to be out of the recycling hauling business entirely by the end of the year, if legislation proposed by Gov. Jack Markell passes.

Markell’s plan would convert the current 5-cent bottle deposit to a tax that would be used to provide start-up money for curbside recycling initiatives from private haulers and municipalities alike.

There’s no word yet on whether Dover would be eligible for some of that money, but DePrima said it’s possible.

A move to city-controlled recycling would require four new sanitation workers, DePrima said, but capital expenditures could be relatively small, since DSWA plans to hand over the recycling bins free of charge and could agree to sell the city it’s trucks for a reasonable price.

City staff told council’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee Dover’s water and sewer budget is facing a $1.7 million shortfall, mostly because of additional sewage treatment fees caused by an influx of storm water into the city’s sewer lines.

DePrima said heavy rains and snowmelt have raised the water table, causing an increase in the level of “inflow and infiltration,” which results in more water being sent to the Kent County Wastewater Treatment Facility.

In addition to paying for additional wastewater treatment, the city’s water meter receipts and water and sewer impact fee revenues are all down.

DePrima already has proposed rate hikes in the city’s fiscal year 2011 budget to cover the additional expenses.

Council will discuss how to correct the imbalance during its budget revision process, which begins in May.