Town has decisions to weigh as it sorts through budget

Frankford's finances are being stretched thin thanks to major losses, and now local leaders are working to avoid a budget shortfall.  They have some solutions, but they aren't anything anyone wants.  Raised water rates and taxes, but without them the town may have a bleak financial future.

For town officials, they must make up for about $106,000 a year in revenue lost in recent years.  That revenue stems from the loss of revenue for water services to Mountaire Farms, and the loss of the Justice of the Peace Court and funding from Delaware State Police.

The loss of revenue from Mountaire comes out to $60,000 a year, and for a year the town has had the ability to raise water rates on residents, and has now decided that is the direction the town will go in.

"They were like a 40 to 50 percent consumer of our water, and we've only got like 350 consumers on our small system," said Greg Welch, Vice President of the council.   "When you lose that base of your sales, the other people are left holding the bag, you've got to up the rates.  And to date we haven't upped the rates."

The water plant gives the town bargaining chips when it comes to enticing property owners to annex into the town, and more residents means more revenue.  But soon, the town may have to give up those chips.

We spoke with Kathy Murray, a member of the budget committee for the last three years and a Franford property owner, who says the challenges the town now faces is stagnant income and growing expenses, adding the Mountaire debacle hurt the town financially.

She suggests the town needs vision, that economic development should be a top priority.

"They could increase their property base so that they can start generating the additional income that's going to be necessary to sustain this town going forward."

Frankford decided at Thursday's workshop that it will raise water rates on residents from $8.75 per 1000 gallons to $12.68.

We are told the town will not know where it stands financially until next Thursday's budget hearing.

Categories: Delaware, Local News

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