Locals Upset with Dewey Town Council Decisions - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Locals Upset with Dewey Town Council Decisions

(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DEWEY, Del. -- Two hot-button issues were discussed at the Dewey Beach Town Council meeting Saturday morning.

Some residents are not happy with how the council's been handling a real estate move and the proposed police budget has been called into question.

Last month Dewey's Mayor Diane Hanson signed a contingency contract to buy two properties on coastal highway next door to town hall.

Council members agree more space is needed to improve efficiency.

"The vast majority of people were not only pleasant, but were very much in favor," said Mayor Hanson addressing the concerns of homeowners who raised strong objections at the meeting.

News of the contract published in the Cape Gazette last month sparked outrage among many of the homeowners. Some said they should've been consulted in a public hearing before the town entered any agreement that would use public funds.

"Nobody argues that the town needs more space," said Dave Davis, one of the residents who expressed his concerns at the meeting.

"We need more facilities, better facilities. But they have bypassed a lot of the process and played fast-and-loose, I think, with the rules," Davis said.

Despite the backlash, the council voted 3-2 to move forward with a counteroffer on the two buildings before the agreement's expiration date on March 16.

The meeting's heated debate didn't stop there.

Another Cape article about the police department requesting a little over one million dollars for the 2016 budget also stirred up controversy for the council.

The seven point three percent jump from last year's budget, which was $970,800, has locals wondering why.

The department's Public Information Officer, Sgt. Cliff Dempsey, addressed concerns about $20,000 listed on the budget proposal under a "miscellaneous" category. He said they are factoring in additional officers for the summer and a number of much needed facility and technology upgrades.

"We use that for our k-9 unit, our ammunition, our training, our dues come out of that account, plus the memorial day extra police that we have," said Sgt. Dempsey.

One homeowner thinks extra officers are necessary especially as the summer season draws nearer in Dewey where disorderly noise is a primary concern to homeowners.

"I'd like to see that as much as it allows it, yes," said Leonard Read, "because the cost of prevention is a lot less than the cost of trying to solve a crime."

By the end of the meeting, the council decided to move forward with proposed budget but noted that footnotes would be added to clarify the "miscellaneous" needs of the police department in the final draft.

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