By Lynn Schofer

During last Tuesday’s Seaford City Council meeting, the signed certificate of election was presented to the council for the annual municipal election which was held on Saturday, April 17. Incumbents James King (169 votes) and Orlando Holland (166 votes) were re-elected to three year terms. The total number of ballots reported were 316 which included 47 absentee ballots. 

Director of Economic Development Trisha Newcomer presented a request by developer David Perlmutter for a fee reduction modification for the Residences at Riverplace. Perlmutter is the developer of two buildings on North Front Street. Work is currently taking place on building number three.

At the March 9 meeting, it was approved by the council to assist the project by repaving South North Street with a fee reduction not to exceed $175,000 for future projects, which included the cost of paving. Both the city engineer and Perlmutter’s engineer worked together on a plan. The sewer line only needs to be relocated to accommodate the placement of the building number three.     

Perlmutter requested a modification of the $175,000 incentive to be split in half with 50 percent applied now to fees for building number three and 50 percent applied to building number four when constructed. Perlmutter agreed, if approved, the paving would be completed now and would be included in the first $87,500. Once construction begins on building number four, the developer will be responsible for road repairs and will bring the road back to original condition for building number four. The request was unanimously approved by the council. The original expiration of March 3, 2024 remains in effect. 

City Manager Charles Anderson presented the HVAC Maintenance bid tabulation in which the city received one bid. National HVAC Services, LLC is the current vendor and Anderson noted the price increased approximately $8,000 from last year because of the two additional new units. Anderson supported this vendor and recommended awarding the bid to National HVAC, which was unanimously approved by the council. 

Chris Simms of Smart Utility Management presented the Power Cost Adjustment Charge (PCAC) for 2020. Simms provided information on the need to adjust the PCAC to cover an increase in the 2021 Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC) rate. Simms told the council, “There is an increase in the DEMEC rate” and added, “in July 2020 when a releveled PCAC was done there was approximately $130,000 over collected from customers for power supply costs and that money needed to be returned. The PCAC has to be increased in order to no longer refund customers.” Simms said the increase to customers will be approximately 1.7 percent which is about $2 on residential bills. 

Councilman King inquired about the consumption credit which is currently at .0138 and Mr. Simms said his recommendation is to reduce it to a smaller credit of .01161. King inquired of what would the total impact be for a residential customer. Simms said that at a 1000 kw usage per month it would amount to $2.19 per month.

“Do we need to do an increase at all?,” King asked. 

Simms said they are working up against a deficit, how the budget is structured, and the COVID impact of the sales to commercial customers are expected to be down. Councilman King asked of residential growth and Mr. Simms indicated he did not have the percentage and stated it is hard to identify what the growth will be in the residential sales because of the impact of the weather and what is happening with the pandemic. Simms pointed out that in 2018 the residential class received a $100,000 break which was shifted to water and sewer rates, providing a decrease in their rate. 

Simms also informed city council that DEMEC is expecting costs to increase over the next four to five years. Anderson responded to an inquiry by Mayor David Genshaw on renewable energy reporting the city is within standard on Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that must be purchased and maintained. The increase was approved, 3-1, with Councilman King voting against the increase.

In an email, King provided an explanation for the nay vote, citing the PCAC credit reduction will increase cost to electric customers. “I feel that our electric rates are too high to begin with and with the vote passing this week the rate will go up even more – a small increase is still an increase! COVID has hit our community extremely hard with economic and financial impacts. Families across the country  are suffering and struggling to pay their bills,” he wrote. “Our Electric Department makes millions of dollars every year in profit so I did not feel an increase was needed.” 

Third party administrator for insurance was presented to council by the Director of Finance June Merritt. She reported there was a meeting with The INTEGRA Group, who are the current third party administrator for health and life insurance. There were eight proposals submitted for review and the recommendation was to stay with Nationwide. A stand out of Nationwide is the rebate program (ERR). Merritt explained that if the premiums and claims come in at a certain level, Nationwide will refund a certain part back to the city which with projections could be approximately $20,000. The Nationwide premium will increase 5.95 percent which remains under the 7.7 percent inflation trends. The retirement program is through The Hartford Group and will have a rate increase of 2.57 percent.

Merritt also affirmed that a value added benefit without additional cost is the Healthy Lifestyle Partnership Program. Other benefits include Swift MD- telemedicine and Medtipster a free generic RX program. The Dentamax will remain as the dental network and Outlook Vision Service. The submitted proposal completed by Kris Smith, President of INTEGRA, was approved by a unanimous vote of 4-0.

In other business, changes to the City of Seaford Municipal Code were presented by Director of Electric Bill Bennett and unanimously approved. Clean-up week is set for May 10-14 for city of Seaford residents. Further information can be found on the city’s website