Council debates signage, passes budget

HARRINGTON — Harrington City Manager Terry Tieman boasted a balanced budget with no increases in taxes and rates and fees relating to trash, water and wastewater during the Mon., June 15 City Council meeting, despite rising personnel costs.

Council Member Wayne Porter lauded Ms. Tieman and the City accountant for their hard work on the ‘well prepared budget.’ Mayor Anthony Moyer joined in the praises, adding “It takes an entire team to do this and I think this one is good.”

Resolution 15-R-06, seeking to adopt a budget for fiscal year 2016 and a revised budget for fiscal year 2015, was approved by the Council during the meeting after gathering several times over the past month to discuss specifics.

Finalizing a necessary piece of the budget, Mr. Porter motioned to approve a $225 fee for manufactured home stickers to be purchased in lieu of taxes. Mr. Porter is the District one representative where many of the manufactured homes in the City are located.

Residents who own such homes will need to acquire the sticker for the upcoming year, then pay an annual fee of $225 each subsequent year, according to Ms. Tieman.

Capital Improvement Plan funds were also approved for 2016 by the Council to include projects such as a street paving program, fire hydrant replacement and improvements to City Hall, the library and parks and recreation properties.

To save money, Council member Amy Minner suggested volunteer hours be offered by members of the Council for minor projects around City Hall such as painting.

Improvements to the zoning code and map were heard during the meeting as presented during a first reading by City Planner Debbie Pfeil.

“I know people put a lot of hard work in this,” newly elected Council member Eric Marquis said.

Most of the discussion revolved around signage, a topic which has resulted in a lot of debate between Council members, the planning commission and others working on changes.

“I think we’re hurting our businesses by not allowing them more signage out there. Right now, we’re restricting them to one wall-mounted sign,” he said, suggesting business owners have 15 percent of their dimensions available for signage on sides which face a road.

Taking the issue to the Kent County Board of Adjustment per business has been the answer given by Ms. Tieman and Ms. Pfeil during several meetings, however, some Council members disagreed due to the hardship it could cost smaller businesses.

“If they start disappearing, the town is the one that suffers,” Council member and now Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans said. Ms. Pfeil agreed to look into the suggestion.

Several members also brought up the issue of animated signage, which have restrictions in the zoning code rewrite. Ms. Tieman said she, Ms. Pfeil, City Solicitor William Pepper and Police Chief Norman Barlow all hold the opinion that ‘animation should not occur.’

“I think it’s an unnecessary distraction to the public,” Mr. Pepper agreed. “My caveat is we let liquor stores open on Sundays one year because it was New Year’s Eve. Now they’re open 352 days a year.”

Jason Dean of JD Sign Company disagreed.

“I’ve heard a lot of opinions tonight about signs, not a lot of fact. The easier the sign is to read, the less accidents you have,” he said while showing some Council members a video of a radar speeding sign which can be found in areas throughout the state and flashes rapidly when someone passes by while speeding.

The Council also voted to approve contracts for the police and fire departments during the meeting. No increases were cited.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.
[fbcomments url="" width="375" count="off" num="3"]