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Lewes, Delaware
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February 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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February 28, 1997

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6 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 28. March 6, 1997 VIEWPOINTS Editorial Cape District community wants answers Several Cape Henlopen School District teachers, parents, and resi- dents called or stopped by our offices in  past week expressing concern about their school system. What s going on?" they asked Why s morale so low among the teachers. Why are administrators being constantly shuffled? Why is there so much turnover? Why is the school board so reluctant to talk about administrative contracts? Why has action on them been delayed? They are spending taxpayer money. What s going on with Nancy Feichtl who, though still on indeterminate suspension, holds the important position of director of instruction? It s our school system, Why aren't we being kept more fully informed?" If all the upheaval churning the district is in the best interest of Cape Henlopen School District, then it should be explained so that the people can understand what's going on and develop support instead of suspicion. Just the opposite is occurring. Confidence in the Cape Henlopen School District administration is shaky at best, and a similar lack of confidence in the school board is developing as each day passes with no explanation of what is hap- pening and why Cape Henlopen School District will be stronger as a result. We're also disturbed by reports that much district business is con- ducted in letters between Superintendent Suellen Skeen and members of the school board as opposed to open discussion and sharing of information in public meetings. If such reports are accurate, such an approach to public business isn't in the proper spirit of strong and open democracy and also raises Freedom of Information Act ques- tions. Cape Henlopen School Board has been taken to task by Delaware's courts in past years for being secretive and less than open in its deal- ings which are, by their very nature, the public's business. Members of Cape Henlopen School Board should review the court decision written a number of years ago by Sussex Chancery Court Judge William Chandler. In a case involving Cape Henlopen School Dis- trict and Freedom of Information Act concerns, Chandler ruled against Cape Henlopen School District and admonished board mem- bers to take a more open approach to their responsibilities. Our public school system is one of the most important institutions of our community and we shouldn't allow our elected and appointed officials to continue along the closed and secretive path that has caused problems in the past. When the public clamors for answers, the best thing elected and appointed officials can do is respond. Oth- erwise the unrest will only grow. Letters A young deer looks up from her grazing routine in Cape Henlopen State Park on a fine February afternoon. Last Quarter New Moon First Quarter Full Moo.n March 2 March 9 March 15 March.24 Francis J. "Duke" Duggan 1934-1997 Volume 4 r No. 41 / A It3" ULLER IN| ,,,-4"-"  Publisher |"" -I'DF-V4EY BEACJ, BUT 7" J   /. - DennisForney |  HAIE. A FEELtR6 I'HA'rl - /.-1 I T.._ts 30tttT'$ A60UTI  - Editor Kerry Kester Rosanne Pack Jen Ellingsworth Janet Andrelczyk Photographer Angle Moon Sports Editor Dave Frederick Advertising Carol Mawysr Advertising Advertising Director Carol Mawyer Fehrenbach Cindy Roberts On DelDot's revenue package What can you buy these days for two to three dollars a month? Not much - except a better transportation system for the State of Delaware. For less than the price of a fast food sandwich, the aver- age user of Delaware's roadways can ensure that DelDOT can provide the range and quality of transportation ser- vices the people of this state have come to enjoy. When Gov. Carper presented his bud- get last month, it included a revenue increase for the Department of Trans- portation totaling about $I31 million over the next six years so that this department can keep pace with the demands of its customers. To accom- plish that, he has proposed a four cent fuel tax increase phased in over the next two years, a .25 increase in document fees, and a variable vehicle registration fee - a fee that has not changed in thirty years. This may seem strange at a time when Delaware is generally in excellent financial condition. However, our trans- portation system has not, and cannot, benefit from the economic fortunes of the General Fund. All transportation improvements are funded through the Transportation Trust Fund Oq'F), a source of revenues segre- gated from the General Fund ten years ago to ensure that transportation pro- jects, maintenance activities and transit services could go forward. During the economic downturn of the early 1990s, all remaining operating costs were placed in the "ITF, reducing the risk to other government programs. We could jeopardize that stability by reverting back to dipping into the General Fund. This approach has served the state well over the past several years. The TTF should not be tapped as a conve- nient source of money to bolster other areas of the budget, nor should trans- portation initiatives drain funds from other government programs. The TrF is supported by a varied and stable array of user-generated revenues. Tolls, motor vehicle fees, motor fuel tax- es, federal funds and bonds proceeds constitute the bulk of the fund's income. Beyond debt financing, the transporta- tion system relies entirely upon the peo- ple who use the system to fund its upkeep and expansion. Delawareans have typically supported this "user-pays" approach as a fair way to apportion the costs of transportation improvements. The TI'F was created by the General Assembly with the realiza- tion that it would need to be replenished with new infusions of money from time to time. Furthermore, this is a nation- wide trend, with 46 other states using dedicated transportation funds. The pro- posed revenue package follows this approach. It is based on increases in user fees that will provide roughly half of the funds for the total revenue increase of $241.4 million. The other $130 million for this six year financial plan will come from the sale of bonds. DelDOT and the governor have committed to the fiscally responsible plan of limiting the debt financing of our transportation invest- ments. DelDOT already leverages nearly 50 percent of its capital expenditures - more debt load could risk out financial stability and hard-earned credit rating. This proposal is not a step we have taken lightly, or without thought to the personal consequences. However, it is an appropriate response to the increasing demands placed upon the transportation system. If we continue to fund trans- portation at the current level, we face some critical consequences. Our eco- nomic prosperity has spurred tremen- dous growth in certain areas of the state - growth that has strained the ability of our infrastructure investments to keep pace. DelDOT has worked hard over the past few years just to catch up on pro- Continued on page 8 Nancy Stenger Joseph Madann Wilcox Classified Sandy Barr Office Manager Kathy Emery Circulation Harry Stoner Production Staff Susan Porter Deidre Sudimak Chris Wildt Contributors: Tim Bamforth Susan Frederick Nancy Katz Geoff Vernon The Cape Gazette (USPS 010294) is pub- lished by Cape Gazette Limited every Friday at the Midway Shopping Center, Highway One, Rehoboth Beach DE 19971. Second class postage paid at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Address all correspondence to Cape Gazette, P.O. Box 213, Lewes, Delaware 19958. Telephone: (302) 645- 7700. FAX - 645-1664. E-mail: capegaz Subscriptions are avail- able at $25 per year in Sussex County; $40 elsewhere. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Cape Gazette, P.O. Box 213, Lewes, Delaware 19958. "After a debauch, one feels oneself always to be more solitary, more abandoned." Charles Baudelaire