Dewey referendum delayed for good reasons
Your readers and our Dewey Beach neighbors are being misled by email blasts from citizens. We ask that unwarranted criticism cease. We want to work together with a sense of community.
At a public hearing on a potential gross receipts tax on Dewey businesses, we voted July 19 against a non-binding referendum. This was proposed by the town’s budget committee for the September election ballot.
We opposed the referendum, at this time, for good reasons:
• The question of a gross receipts tax involves numerous and complex legal issues that are presently the subject of a lawsuit. It is our hope and expectation that the court will rule in the town’s favor as early as this Fall. Considering a GRT at this time threatens to prolong that litigation and thereby extend the period in which our taxing authority can be questioned, not to mention adding significant legal expenses for the citizens of Dewey Beach.
• Even the proponents of a non-binding referendum concede that a GRT should not be implemented until after the litigation is concluded. Therefore, there is nothing to gain by rushing a referendum to the ballot now.
• Pete Schwartzkopf, speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives, put the town on notice based on his legislative attorney’s research. Two Delaware attorneys testified at the hearing with similar concerns. Ultimately, a judge will decide.
• Moving too quickly could lead to a protracted legal battle and create continued conflict.
• Inaccurate and incomplete information has been provided to the public. It would be irresponsible to hold a referendum without sufficient time to properly inform the public.
• The Dewey Business Partnership offered to come to the table with alternatives. Our town currently has a $200,000 surplus for fiscal year 2012-13. We are not in a financial crisis!
• Our town manager’s history of financial management has been highly praised in this newspaper. Let’s give him a chance to work with our businesses. What will be lost? What might be gained? While we wait for a court decision.
We agree the homeowner rentals generate far more revenue than Dewey businesses. We have always supported a fair share contribution by all components.
All current commissioners support an equitable tax structure. But why take unnecessary risk when all stakeholders are willing to talk? The goal is additional revenues from the business-customer based sector.
If re-elected Saturday, Sept. 21, we will follow through as promised. We pledge to put the public’s interest first. And act responsibly.
Mayor Diane Hanson
Commissioner Anna Legates