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March 15, 2013     Cape Gazette
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March 15, 2013

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cape Q ette VIEWPOINTS FRIDAY, MARCH 15- MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2013 7 letters Continued from page 6 Our town manager has reported that the town has ap- proximately $2 million set aside in restricted and nonrestricted in- vestments and other accounts. If the town is truly having financial problems, then all of us, rental property businesses, regular homeowners, residents and aver- age business owners alike, should contribute to rebuild the emer- gency surplus funds. Everybody should be willing to help, if and when it is honestly necessary. Although they may mean well, the committee and our commis- sioners need to rethink the logic and arguments they are using. We all know that almost any additional fees or taxes imposed on and limited to just one town segment will likely lead to very expensive court challenges, plac- ing the town even.deeper into budget problems. We all need to work together and not just attack one group of our in-town com- munity, no matter how politically convenient that might be. Dale H. Cooke Dewey Beach Dewey rental tax interpretations differ " Last week, I had an email exchange with Dewey Beach Town Council member Courtney Riordan regarding the accommo- dations tax in Dewey. It is very clear that he and some members of the town council as well as the Citizens to Preserve Dewey (the political group backing the cur- rent administration) have a rather myopic view of this tax. The accommodations tax, as proposed and as explained to the residents in 2008, was to be simi- lar to the room tax paid if you rent a hotel room in Delaware or most any other state. The tax would be collected by the business along with the rent and passed on to the Town of Dewey Beach annually. The question of exactly who was being taxed (the renter or property owner) was asked and - answered numerous times at meetings and workshops. Had this not been clear, then it is very unlikely that the referendum authorizing this tax would ever have passed in the first place. If you look on the town website, you wilt find a notice to property owners that states, "If you do rent out property, be aware that there is an accom- modation tax you should collect." Note the word "collect." If you search the internet looking for property to rent, you will fre- quently find mention that there is a 3 percent accommodations tax in addition to the rental fee. In other words, it should be clear to everyone by now that this is a rental tax payable by the renter and collected by the property owner. But Mr. Riordan adamantly insists that this is not the case. It's not clear if this is due to a problem with the wording in the ordinance passed in 2009, or a self-serving interpretation, but something needs to be done to correct this situation, because Mr. Riordan and his supporters are essentially claiming that the resi- dents were promised one thing, but given something different. Since Mayor Hanson and Town Manager Applebaum were both on the town council when the law was passed, it would seem prudent for these two people to address this issue and state, for the record, which is the correct interpretation. And, if the law was not written so that it reflects the intent of the referen- dum, then it should be changed to conform. Until it is cleaJ: who is paying what, Mr, Riordan should not continue use his interpretation of this tax as an argument in favor of his proposed business gross receipts tax or as a way of exclud- We must save Paws for a Cause program s of March 8 the Paws for a Cause This is were everyone gets in trouble and had been announced as suspended why many owners have terrible jumpers and due to dog bites. This is very dis- even nippers to say the very least - something couraging since the program was everyone must follow. a win-win for the men, the dogs, the SPCA Want to help? Write your Delaware repre- (we took at times a total of four dogs out of sentative, Gov. Markell, your local commis- the SPCA's facility), and it was so rewarding sioners asking to reconsider giving Paws for to me, as their certified dog trainer. I enjoyed a Cause another chance. It can work. It was every minute of it. It is my training program working. that I merged to implement the AKC's Canine As an authorized mentor to the school Good Citizen Program. This program, Paws Animal Behavior College, I worked to train for a Cause, gave the men and their dogs reha- the men to train each other as to how to train bilitation and a sense of value. Everyone had the dogs and they themselves to become dog smiles on their faces! trainers for their next chance in life. It was Note: All dogs adopted are in their new working, and in each session I saw team play- forever homes permanently! How rewarding ers, each building confidence in themselves is that! (It wasn't a question!) and how to handle a dog and how to trouble- The suspension was due to dog bitesshoot a situation. because the rules for a polite meet and greet, And please pray and ask God to restore this AKC and K-10 dog-training style, were not fol- awesome program. lowed. Everyone loved the dogs and couldn't Nancy taFontaine keep their paws off of them...'they were just ABC certified dog trainer, mentor, CGC evaluator sooooo cute!'. K-IO Dog Training ing rental businesses from that tax. Graham Smith Dewey Beach Dewey must explore all its tax options As a Lewes native and a home owner in Dewey Beach, I fek compelled to respond to the letter submitted by Carrie Leishman, CEO/president of the Delaware Restaurant As- sociation. While I agree with certain points in her letter, I take exception to Ms. Leishman's as- sertion that Dewey government officials should be criticized for consideririg a gross receipts tax on businesses in town because Dewey property owners "will- ingly flocked to the seasonal hotspot over its quieter neighbors in Lewes or Bethany Beach" and because many "iconic Dewey venues have been around much longer than their complaining residential neighbors." Basically, she is telling all Dewey property owners that you purchased property knowing the problems facing the town and that it would be unfair for your elected officials to now consider a new tax on businesses to help resolve the issues. I have a real problem with someone claim- ing that the town in which I own property should not consider a new tax affecting certain estab- lishments in town because they are "iconic." If that makes me a "complaining residential neigh- bor," then so be it. Ms. Leishman's position ignores the reality in Dewey Beach - a significant portion of the town's budget goes toward dealing with the adverse effects (unruly behavior/public drunk- enness/vandalism) caused by patrons of certain establishments. Given this drain on the town's funds, I believe it is equitable to ask those businesses, through a new tax, to cover a larger portion of Dewey's budget. Those who place an inordinate amount of strain on the town's resources should pay for their respective share of the town's operating expenses. Having said that, I am mindful that a gross receipts tax would'place an unfair burden on those businesses in town whose customers do not cause prob- lems. Unfortunately, there seems to be no clean solution. I agree with Ms: Leishman's concern that new taxes may be shifted to local employees and tourists (making them less likely to come to town due to higher prices). However, given the harsh fmancial reality facing the town, the hardship of finding new sot t es of income for the town will need to be borne by several groups, not just Dewey homeowners. I also believe it Continued on page 8 9 lCe ospreys are ne of the area's most visible indicators of Sussex County's water table is the pond next to Besche Fumiture on Rt. 9 at Gravel Hill. For the first time in about three years, the pond is full again, with water stretching from shore to shore. The winter's storms have helped recharge our water supplies. The mermaid there is almost getting her tail wet. The droughty years of recent times have allowed more grasses to get established in the pond, but the water level is definitely up. February seemed like a wet and cold month to us, but look- ing at the numbers shows how accustomed we have become to warmer and drier Februarys. In the last week of February, for example, the normal average temperature is 38.9 degrees. This year that average was 40.4 degrees. As for rainfall? We had two inches in Febru- ary this year, but in an average year, February brings us three inches of rain. For the first two months of 2013 we stood at 4.77 inches of rainfall compared to an average of 6.52 inches. All that said, this winter has still been colder and wetter than the winters of the previous two years. When thinking about weather, we don't remember much beyond that. Somebody asked me the other day whether I thought we would ever see the hard winters we saw when we were kids. What about three and four years ago when we were hammered back to back with some of the heaviest snowfalls ! have seen in my life? Something about the human mind and what and how it remembers. Put ICE in your phone Lewes Fire Department sent out an ambulance subscription solicitation recently. All of the local fire and rescue squads send these fundraising letters from time to time, and it's very important that we respond with whatever we can afford. The funds raised through these efforts are the lifeblood of our first responders' efforts. This particular letter includ- ed an interesting item that I just acted on and am passing along. iCE. It stands for In Case of Emergency, and you put it in your cellphone along with THE MERMA|D in the pond beside Besche Furniture that the Sussex County water table is finally rising. DENNIS FORNEY PHOTO at Gravel Hill is happy a contact phone number for whoever you want contacted if your phone is found in an emergency situation. The ICE idea comes from East Anglian Ambulance Service paramedic Bob Brotchie, who often found himself at roadside crashes looking through the mobile phone contacts trying to find important information about a shocked or injured person. The ICE advice is now Continued on page 8