Bear sighted trav­el­ing through Elkton, Per­ryville

Res­i­dents ad­vised to use cau­tion

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— That mi­grat­ing bear seen Fri­day night along Singerly and Rick­etts Mill roads near Elkton has moved west.

Per­ryville Po­lice Chief Allen Miller said the bear was spot­ted along Char­ter Hall Road in the Fur­nace Bay area.

Spot­ted first around White Clay Creek in New-

PER­RYVILLE

ark Thurs­day, Ce­cil County De­part­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices is­sued an alert Fri­day night around 9: 30 that the so- called “Dela Bear” had been found wan­der­ing along the tree line at Rick­etts Mill and Route 213. Of­fi­cials ad­vised res­i­dents not to ap­proach the bear and also to bring pets and garbage cans in­side.

“It’s not be­ing ag­gres­sive, so we’re not go­ing to do any­thing,” Lt. Michael Holmes, spokesman for the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, said Fri­day. Holmes said the bear was spot­ted around 8 p.m.

“Deputies and Elkton po­lice got a vis­ual,” Holmes said. “He went back into the wood­line.”

Any­one who sees the bear should make no at­tempt to ap­proach the wild an­i­mal, Holmes said, adding killing the bear is il­le­gal.

Al­though not con­firmed, Holmes said it is likely this is the same bear spot­ted in the White Clay Creek area Thurs­day.

if ap­proved. The wa­ter and sewer rates, which were low­ered in Jan­uary 2015, are re­tained in the bud­get as well.

Among the most sweep­ing pro­pos­als in Alt’s bud­get is a 3 per­cent salary in­crease for all non-law en­force­ment em­ploy­ees. It would be the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year of in­creases for town em­ploy­ees af­ter they re­ceived a 5 per­cent bump last year. Mean­while, mem­bers of the Elkton Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge No. 124 are not sched­uled to re­ceive a cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment in the fis­cal year 2017 bud­get, but each of­fi­cer will re­ceive a 3 per­cent in­crease on their an­niver­sary date, per the ne­go­ti­ated agree­ment with the town. Their con­tract ex­pires in June 2017.

In the bud­get, four of the eight avail­able Elkton Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cer po­si­tions are di­rectly bud­geted. A “line item re­bate” for four non-bud­geted of­fi­cer po­si­tions, which would re­quire a fu­ture bud­get amend­ment in case more than four qual­i­fied ap­pli­cants are hired for the po­lice force, is also in-

cluded. If only half of the po­si­tions are filled — or four of eight — there is a po­ten­tial for $359,564 in sav­ings.

Steve Re­pole, town fi­nance di­rec­tor, said the pro­posal does bud­get for the de­part­ment to be fully staffed, al­though on av­er­age four peo­ple are hired to the de­part­ment within ev­ery year. A lack of qual­i­fied can­di­dates has led to a dif­fi­culty in hir­ing for the open po­si­tions. The po­lice de­part­ment has not been fully staffed since 2003, Alt said.

The mayor also bud­geted for six po­lice ve­hi­cles, which amounts to $305,100, to phase out ag­ing cars. Nine ve­hi­cles were pur­chased this fis­cal year.

In a past Board of Com­mis­sion­ers work­shop, Alt said he would like hold off on pur­chas­ing more new ve­hi­cles, but he changed his mind in the fi­nal pro­posal be­cause ma­jor­ity of the board agreed the po­lice de­part­ment should have the cars, he said.

“It’s not just my bud­get all the time,” he said. “I do lis­ten to the board.”

Mean­while, Com­mis­sioner DJ VanRee­nen, who has his­tor­i­cally been the lone dis­sent­ing voice in many of the board’s de­ci­sion since be­ing elected two years ago

and is sup­port­ing two chal­lengers in the town elec­tion, said he is not in fa­vor of the bud­get.

“I am not for the con­cept of over­spend­ing just to over­spend,” he said Fri­day.

Among the items that he is op­pos­ing is a $12,000 up­grade to in­stall speak­ers in the downtown. VanRee­nen said that al­though mil­lions of dol­lars have been put to­ward the Main Street Pro­gram to re­vi­tal­ize the downtown area, prop­erty val­ues have still de­creased. He agrees the pro­gram has a pur­pose, but be­lieves too much money is be­ing spent in the downtown area.

“I do not be­lieve that we should have a slush fund that’s la­beled ‘eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,’” VanRee­nen said, re­fer­ring to money es­tab­lished in last year’s bud­get that pur­chased pro­mo­tional T-shirts and al­lowed the Elkton Cham­ber and Al­liance to rent a West Main Street prop­erty in or­der to deny other po­ten­tial ten­ants from oc­cu­py­ing it.

VanRee­nen said he does want to see all eight needed po­si­tions within the po­lice de­part­ment filled, but be­lieves us­ing a line item re­bate tricks the pub­lic into be­liev­ing they are funded.

“Don’t use a line item re-

bate to look like we’re us­ing less money out of the sav­ings ac­count,” he said. “If the po­lice chief said there needs to be 45 of­fi­cers, then bud­get for 45 of­fi­cers. Bud­get for the avail­able po­si­tions, stop play­ing with the num­bers to make it look like we’re us­ing less money from the sav­ing ac­count.”

VanRee­nen wor­ries that chronic us­age of sav­ings to bal­ance the town’s bud­get cou­pled with non-bud­geted needs will use drain re­serve funds.

“It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore the sav­ings ac­count is de­pleted and we have to raise taxes,” he said.

VanRee­nen also crit­i­cized the amount of time that com­mis­sion­ers and the pub­lic have to re­view the mayor’s fi­nal pro­posal be­fore the pub­lic hear­ing, which has been set for 7 p.m. Wed­nes­day at town hall. Four days is not enough time for any­one to re­view the doc­u­ments, ask ques­tions and have an­swers within that time time­frame, he said.

The board of town com­mis­sion­ers can cut from Alt’s pro­posal, but can­not add to it. The fi­nal bud­get is sched­uled to be con­sid­ered by the board at 7 p.m. June 1.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DNREC

A ci­ti­zen cap­tured this photo of a bear near White Clay Creek in Ne­wark, Del. Pos­si­bly the same bear was re­cently sighted in Ce­cil County.

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