Townsend Town Council on Wednesday, Sept. 6, will vote on a proposed ordinance which makes residents pay for the streetlights by adding a charge to their trash bills.
The meeting, open to the public, starts at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 141 Main St., Townsend.
Council members will vote for or against the ordinance at that meeting. If it’s voted down, an ordinance with new wording will be written, another public hearing will be held, and council will vote on the new proposal, said Councilwoman Cindy Cook.
So far, the ordinance with the current wording hasn’t received any support from the public at a special hearing and at recent town meetings. No council member has publicly said how he or she will vote on it. If adopted, council will decide the amount of the new fee.
Council members discussed the ordinance at their Aug. 23 meeting. Residents who attended the meeting again said they opposed the ordinance. Town council held a public hearing on Aug. 3 where residents voiced objections, too.
One objection is that the ordinance makes the residents pay a flat fee for the streetlights, but the lights aren’t evenly distributed in the town. In downtown Townsend, there are few street lights while more lights are in newer housing developments.
Also, some residents want the light fee paid in their property taxes while senior citizens complained the fee will hit them hard since they live on a fixed income.
Cook said council has taken all the issues into consideration, have reviewed different scenarios and discussed the issue for months.
“I live in a subdivision where there’s no lights in front of my house. My car’s been broken into six times. So, I understand it’s a safety issue. I also understand it’s an income issue,” she said.
Residents have discussed the incomes of those living in the housing developments. Cook said her income is nowhere as high.
“We are concerned about the citizens of Townsend, the people who are on fixed incomes. It’s really what is best for your guys,” Cook said. “It’s hard because here’s the thing you need to consider: lights are eventually going to go up and down the streets. There’s also going to be other neighborhoods. There’s the park to consider that gets lit. There’s town hall that gets lit.”
The streetlights, numbering in the hundreds in Townsend, aren’t owned by the town government. Delmarva Power owns the lights and the town leases them.