Smyrna Town Council reiterated their approval for the $3.5 million police station expansion at their Jan. 22 meeting at the request of Town Manager Dave Hugg, who asked for verification that the expansion was approved so the architects and construction manager could move forward in the process.

"I just want to be sure council did in fact approve for us to start to spend money as we incur costs," Hugg said. "I don't want to be in a situation where we start to get bills and someone raises questions if I was given authority to spend the money."

Hugg said he just wanted to make sure he had the green-light to proceed as he needs to set up interim financing for the project

Councilman Jeff Flairty asked if it was smart to start spending money on the project when the town is on a $289,000 spending restriction until the 2012 numbers are finalized. Mayor Pat Stombaugh said the restriction was for a piece of equipment and not the budget in general. Flairty then asked if staff was given specific instructions not spend that money. Hugg said yes, that was his understanding.

Council went on to approve a motion 6-1 with Councilwoman Valerie White voting no.

DEMEC receives approval for solar park

Council passed a motion to approve the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation's Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance plan; the motion also gave approval for the town to enter into a lease agreement for DEMEC to use 6 acres of land by the Business Park for a solar facility.

The RPS Compliance Plan is a state-mandate geared towards more green energy use.

The contract is for 20 years and the town will get $156,000. The town is not responsible for operations or maintenance of the facility.

Part-time employees receive pay increase

Council approved a motion 6-0 to give the town's permanent part-time employees a two-percent pay increase. The recommendation came out of the Personnel Committee. Stombaugh abstained from the vote.

Councilwoman Joanne Masten said there are roughly a dozen permanent part-time employees who make roughly $10-$12 per hour with most of the employees working less than 20 hours a week.

Stombaugh and Councilman Bob Johnson said the issue should go down to the Finance Committee since it has to do with the town's tight finances. However, it was noted by Councilman Anthony DeFeo that the raises wouldn't have much an impact on the budget so council should just vote.

Masten said the impact would roughly be $5,000.

Senior citizen tax exemption

Council unanimously approved a senior citizen tax exemption.

Residents 65 years old and older who have owned their dwelling for at least one year, and have either an individual income of $24,000 or a joint income of $30,000 are eligible for the property tax exemption.

To be considered for the exemption, residents needs to file an application at town hall, which includes the applicant's IRS Form 1040, copy of picture ID, statement of income, names of other owners of the dwelling, address for the dwelling, and additional information deemed necessary by the town.

The filing deadline is Friday, March 15 at 4:30 p.m.

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