City Manager Scott Koenig and City Controller Donna Mitchell proposed a 54 percent trash fee increase that would help reduce what is now a projected $1.763 million operating deficit for Dover's 2013 fiscal year.


City Manager Scott Koenig and City Controller Donna Mitchell proposed a 54 percent trash fee increase that would help reduce what is now a projected $1.763 million operating deficit for Dover's 2013 fiscal year.

The proposed, $36 million 2013 fiscal year budget deficit was originally predicted to be $3.4 million.

The increase in trash fees would raise $1 million in additional revenue to cover sanitation’s shortfall, knocking the overall deficit down, Mitchell said at Dover City Council’s retreat Monday. This would eliminate the subsidy the sanitation fee currently receives from general taxes, she said.

A lot of people would not be happy with the proposed hike in the sanitation fee from $11.70 to  $18.02 per month, Koenig said, referring to the most widely used rate. But the city had to consider the increase under the circumstances, he said.

“If we make the assumption that we’re coming out of the recession, people are creating more trash as they go out more [and consume more],” Koenig said.

The remaining portion of the deficit could be made up for with a property tax increase, although he was loathe to bring the subject up, Koenig said. He said this would amount to an additional 3 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

City Council members also debated the prospect of raising the electricity rate to help deal with the shortfall. After all, the electric utility was supposed to be the city’s “cash cow,” Councilman William Hare said.

But, Councilwoman Beverly Williams reminded everyone that they needed to keep in mind that people faced future gasoline prices of as high as $5 per gallon this summer, if trends continued.

“So, when you’re talking about adding to our taxpayers’ responsibilities – they’re already under the gun,” she said.

Councilman David Anderson said it was good news that the projected deficit had been reduced from the $3.4 million touted frequently heretofore. He also thought the trash fee increase was a good idea to make that department self-sufficient.

But raising property taxes was not something he thought council would be too keen on when all was said and done.

The projected deficit also went down in part because the Dover Fire Department decided to only buy one new fire truck instead of two, and employees were asked to contribute more to their benefits, Mitchell said.

In addition, Koenig proposed the elimination of 12 full time positions left open by attrition. Juxtaposed with the 12 deletions were Koenig’s proposal to hire six part time positions and 15 full time positions that he thought crucial to city services.

Councilman William McGlumphy asked if the 21 positions Koenig wanted to fill were funded in the budget proposal presented to Dover City Council Monday night.

Koenig said they were.

Moreover, eliminating these 21 positions would not make a significant dent in the deficit, Koenig said.

“I’m not sure how we can cut anymore without affecting service,” he said.

But nothing is etched in stone at this point as there is sill a lot of time left to discuss the proposed 2013 fiscal year budget, which begins on July 1, said McGlumphy, who retires from City Council next month.

“A lot of stuff is going to change between now and June,” he said. “Be careful which road you’re traveling down.”