Thomas gives state of town’s finances

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the citizens of Ocean View and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

On April 3, the Annual Operating Budget was passed by the Ocean View Town Council by a vote of 3 to 2. Voting for the budget were Mayor Meredith, Councilmen Magill and Thomas. Voting against the budget were Councilmen Wichmann and Amendt. As the chairperson of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee, I would like to update the citizens on a few of the details.

First, let me extend credit to Kathy Roth (past town manager) and Councilman Magill for the foresight they had several years ago to recognize that OV’s dependence on the transfer tax was not prudent fiscal management. It appears that OV may be able to avoid the situation that exists in Bethany Beach (no reserves and a 100 percent tax increase) because of their tireless efforts to convince Town Council members of the potential risks. They should be proud of their efforts.

Mr. Gregory, the new town manager, shares these same concerns.

Secondly, I would like to thank Marc Grimes and Cliff Mitchell, who are the citizen representatives on the Long Range Financial Planning Committee. They each have given a considerable amount of their personal time.

Town Council, looking to the future this past year, set aside $1,425,000 in Reserve Trusts to provide for OV in the event of an emergency situation and to ensure that funds are available to preserve the quality of its assets. Also, arrangements were made that these reserves will grow at a faster rate than the rate of inflation, thus protecting OV for the future. No other town of OV’s size has these type of expanding reserves. Other towns are now talking about the need to establish reserves.

Town Council recognizes that all revenue sources must be explored, not just real estate taxes: (1) A renters tax was passed, (2) building permit fees are in the process of being increased from $.25 per square foot to $.88 per square foot, (3) the establishment of impact fees of approximately $2,000 per new home, (4) a complete review of all fees, (5) and approved the annexation of 344 new homes into the community.

This does not mean that the OV is not facing challenges. OV remains heavily dependant upon the transfer tax. The five-year plan requires a return to a healthy and robust (not a booming) real estate market. Without this, tough decision will have to be made. Reduced service levels, significant tax increases or a combination of both would all be on the table.

This year’s budget had several goals: (1) Increase and/or maintain current service levels from the different departments, (2) adequate resources for capital improvements to ensure that the assets of OV are kept in first-class order and OV’s amenities are expanded and (3) provide for the employees.

This has been accomplished: (1) Operating Budgets for departments were increased by 8 percent. This is much greater than the rate of inflation and enables each department to improve service levels to the community. (2) $4,824,000 was approved for the five-year Capital Improvement Plan. Examples: $1,260,000 for a Public Works Building, $1,179,000 for drainage improvement, and $440,000 for upkeep of streets. (3) The budget also provides for a 5.5 percent salary increase and a very employee friendly health insurance and dental plans.

Now the bad news: The Town Council was forced to implement a 9 percent tax increase. The last tax increase was in 1996. This tax increase will amount to approximately $45 to the average tax payer.

Even with this tax increase, OV will be facing a cash shortage of $1.375 million over the next five years. The Town Council has charged the town manager with finding savings of $600,000 over this period. We believe that this is possible. Where will OV find the remaining $775,000? The Long Range Financial Planning Committee has already started working on this problem. At this time we do not have the answer.

OV presently has adequate cash. At the end of FY 2007 (April 2007) there will be approximately $2,900,000 of unallocated cash available. The cash will be reduced to $450,000 by April 2008 and will be negative $375,000 by April 2009.

This reduction is caused by the fact that OV has deficit spending. Over the next five years, OV will spend $3,900,000 more than it takes in. Obviously, this can not continue. OV’s Town Council must find a way to balance the budget.

If you would like more information on the OV budget please contact Town Hall and ask for the FY 2008 budget and a copy of the Recommendations of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee. You are also welcome to contact me at roythomas@mchsi.com. I encourage the public to be informed and participate in the decision-making process.

Roy Thomas, Chairperson
Long Range Financial Planning Committee
Councilman, District 4 — Ocean View

Bethany parade plans well under way

I know it is trite to proclaim that “time flies,” but in that vein this is a very belated thank you for the privilege to have been the Grand Marshall for the 2006 Fourth of July parade. My family and I cherish many special memories of our overwhelming trip around the parade route in a horse-drawn wagon.

The whole experience evokes small-town Americana extraordinaire. One would assume that Bethany Beach had cornered the market on smiles, waves and American flags on that day. My 3-year-old grandson now thinks a parade means boarding a shiny wagon and riding it through town.

Since we have established that “time flies,” it is again time for the Fourth of July Committee to solicit donations to offset the cost of running the parade. The committee, under the direction of Chairman Philip Rossi, hires bands, donates to the Christian Church for using their property as the staging area, donates to the Boy Scouts in exchange for their assistance, purchases bike decorations that are free to all 1,500 registered bike participants, purchases prizes for Best Floats and so on.

The Town of Bethany Beach donates the use of the dedicated Public Works Department, who works about a 20-hour day on the Fourth, the Bethany Beach Police and State Patrol are also depended upon that day to keep the parade and traffic running smoothly. You get my drift. Behind-the-scenes activities go on all year long.

Many area businesses, home owners associations and individuals respond to our annual April mailing requesting a donation. Now we also ask for your help to defray expenses. If you enjoy the parade and would like to make a donation, please send it to: The Bethany Beach Fourth of July Committee, P.O. Box 800, Bethany Beach DE 19930.

Gloria Farrar
2006 Fourth of July Grand Marshall

Hastings would fill seat with integrity

I enjoyed the opportunity to attend and be introduced to a wonderful person in Gregory Hastings during his formal kick-off held in the Millsboro Civic Center, Millsboro, on April 9.

This event was well attended. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. After speaking with Mr. Hastings and his family it was clear to me that the vacated seat of John Atkins would be filled with a gentleman of vast integrity.

Mr. Hastings is well regarded in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I am not in his district, so I will not be able to vote for him. However, because I believe in him and the issues he is very passionate about, I will formally endorse Mr. Gregory A. Hastings and work to encourage all of those who live in the 41st District to vote.

Nancy L. Colella
Ocean View

Hocker has our best interests at heart

I’m writing in response to Mr. James D. Houston’s letter of April 6, 2007, concerning House Bill 267 “civil recovery act” in which he took issue with Rep. Hocker’s support of this bill.

Your readers should be made aware of the fact that this type of bill was not only adopted by Delaware, but all the remaining 49 states. Rep. Hocker has a reputation of treating all of Delaware’s citizens fairly (which probably comes as a surprise to Mr. Houston) regardless of their status in society and could care less if the shoplifter’s father was the poorest of the poor or the governor’s son or daughter.

Fortunately, the majority of the voters in Rep. Hocker’s district, regardless of their political affiliation, appreciate Rep. Hocker’s hard work and I hope will continue to return him to Dover to protect the best interest of Sussex County’s citizens.

William T. Kellam

Reader supports school uniforms efforts

I am writing to express my thoughts on the much-discussed school uniform issue and your article in the April 6 Coastal Point regarding feedback on this subject.

The Indian River School Board is to be commended for considering school uniforms. A uniform school dress code is an idea whose time has come considering the slovenly fashion era in which we live.

The Indian River School Board has solicited opinions on this policy so as to receive input from parents. The overwhelming response, 75 percent, supported the implementation of a school uniform policy.

Unfortunately, the minority has now become very verbal, citing many reasons against the policy that have been discussed ad nauseum in other school districts that have subsequently successfully implemented a school uniform policy. Your own article notes only two comments from parents on this issue and, for some reason, they were both against the uniform policy. Where there no supportive comments given at the meeting mentioned?

I will not attempt to summarize the many many positive benefits of a school uniform policy nor will I attempt to convert those against it. I will add one thing. And that is that as a substitute teacher in Indian River middle and high schools I can say that the current dress code policy is virtually impossible to enforce and that some students knowingly ignore and violate it daily. The numerous and unnecessary daily battles over this issue can be eliminated by implementing a school uniform policy. Furthermore, I believe that the School of the Arts has a uniform policy and that it works very well.

I will close by saying that I support the efforts of the Indian River School Board. I hope they have the strength of their convictions and that they will soon announce that a school uniform policy will be in place when our schools reopen in September after the summer vacation.

Thomas M. Keeley
Ocean View

Editor’s note: The school uniform survey results included a reported 75 percent figure for respondents who supported continued discussion of the issue. That number did not necessarily reflect those who actually favor the actual implementation of such a policy. Some 3,420 of the 4,531 either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” to further consider discussions while 1,111 either “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed.” No final tally of those who support actual implementation of a school uniform policy has been released, nor has a draft policy been completed. Voices continue to be heard on both sides.

LDAF joins forces to better life for many

Thank you for bringing attention to the challenges faced by those living with autism throughout the year and especially during Autism Awareness Month this April.

The Lower Delaware Autism Foundation works to ensure that individuals with autism will have a lifetime of meaningful and enriching opportunities within their communities.

In our efforts to advocate for individuals with autism, we have joined forces with the Delaware Advocacy Coalition for the Family Support Waiver (DACFSW) to advocate for critical funding to support families of children with autism and other disabilities.

Coalition member organizations identifying this as a top priority include: The Arc of Delaware, The Autism Society of Delaware, The Down Syndrome Association, Lower Delaware Autism Foundation, The Parent Information Center, Easter Seals, United Cerebral Palsy, CERTS and Family Voices.

The Family Support Waiver offers a sound way to help families keep their disabled adults at home longer and out of long-term, full-time, state-funded residential placements. State spending for this waiver would be matched dollar-for-dollar by the federal funding.

The Waiver will support 1,398 adult individuals with developmental disabilities to live at home. This means that more than 2,800 people will directly benefit from this Waiver. People supported by the Waiver will be able to:

• direct their major day or vocational services

• create innovative and cost effective services, and

• provide a small allowance for the purchase of ancillary services, such as home modification or adaptive equipment, supported employment or additional respite care, among other options.

This will save taxpayers and the state money by reducing the need for expensive out-of-home placements. The Waiver will have a direct impact on families’ abilities to cope by reducing stress, increasing maternal employment, reducing financial concerns, increasing satisfaction with services, and, most importantly, increasing self-efficacy for people with disabilities — meaning increasing their ability to problem solve and take responsibility for their lives to the fullest extent possible.

Nationally, the average family expenditure on family support is $5,005. Delaware only spends $902 per family. Only four other states spend less per family than Delaware. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado and Idaho. Our surrounding states do a better job. Pennsylvania spends $2,348 per family, Maryland spends $4,338 per family, and New Jersey spends $6,243 per family.

The Delaware Division of Disabilities Services is serving 70 percent more people than it did in the year 2000, requiring more and more reliance on families to keep their adult children with disabilities at home.

Although this is a pressing need, Gov. Minner has not included any funding in her FY 2008 budget. LDAF and the Advocacy Coalition for the Family Support Waiver asks our Legislature to support this Waiver at a cost of $1.2 million in the first year to support our growing number of adults with disabilities and their families at home.

We ask our communities to lend their support by encouraging our legislature to help us help our children and spend tax money wisely for all our sakes.

Melissa Tice Martin
Lower Delaware Autism Foundation

Reader disagrees with stem cell research

Putting aside all of the discussion and spin about embryonic stem cell research, the best way to resolve the problem in your mind is to analyze the basic facts.

First, we have to face the fact that an embryo is a living thing.

It contains stem cells like all of the rest of us. Today, there is considerable stem cell research using stem cells from adults. There is proof of their successful use, and they are obtained without depriving others of life.

All research from embryos to date have failed — the results are weird and unpredictable, yet there are those who still want to continue down that path although it does kill human life. It is an untenable position to want to kill known life to try to help those in need. Who is more needy than the embryo being killed? What is worse, it boils down to the fact that there is no real reason behind embryonic research, it is all supposition, guesswork.

An embryo is formed by a natural law of human conception, an egg fertilized by a sperm. In that instant, a living human being is created that will go through many stages of life, all of them absolutely connected to one another in a continuous development without a single interruption.

Just as plant seeds possess the starting point for plant life because they are first-stage fertilized life, just like an embryo, which if not killed will result in trees or flowers, so will a human life result into a mature human person if the embryo is allowed to continue its stages of growth. We all know that if we cut off the little seedling with the lawn mower, that is the end of the flower plant it would become. In the same way, if we cut into an embryo, we are destroying the human being that would have become.

Would we even contemplate cutting apart a one year old darling child to use her parts? Of course not. But if we cut apart an embryo to use its stem cells, we are really doing the same thing — it is only a matter of happening a year sooner, but still the same thing. We are killing a darling child.

So, no matter what reasons anyone can dream up to allow us to destroy embryos to ge their stem cells for experimental research, think of it as killing that darling child to use her body parts for experimental research, it is exactly the same thing — and then multiply that child’s life by the thousands the heartless experimental researchers want to use in future if we let them bamboozle us into agreeing that it is OK.

One of the worst aspects of it all is that there is no assurance that anything good will ever come out of the embryonic stem cell research because there is no real evidence or reason to expect it. The truth is, the people who want to do it only want the right to destroy the embryos in a blind attempt to see if something good will ever come out of it. In other words, they are just guessing.

Not one stem cell researcher can give you a definite answer that something will ever come out of all they want to do — they just want government money to experiment with. How empty the promises and how clever the propaganda that such research will help anyone. Once we agree to it, what is next? Will it be OK then to do experimental research on some old guy, cut him up for research, snuff out other old people in a long series of trials?

Going back to the beginning, the best way to understand a problem is to look at it squarely in the face and face the facts without illusion. In this case, there is no worthy purpose in using human life in its earliest stages just to kill it in a long-shot research gamble. Does that sound like a thing a normal American would agree to?

Have you noticed that the ACLU, which pretends to fight for civil rights, is not trying to stop embryonic stem cell research because it offends our right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”? The reason is that the liberal element in America uses civil rights as a two way street when they interfere with their desire for anything that eliminates life such as abortion.

Embryonic stem cell research is not a real attempt to improve life; it is just another attempt to destroy it. For at the bottom of such research is the destruction of embryos, each one of which is a human being in its earliest stage of life.

There are those today who would create embryos to sell for research even as they realize it is the same offense as a mother selling her child for the same reason. If we cannot condone the one, how can we condone the other? If it is not OK to kill anyone after its birth at nine months of life then, of course, it is wrong to kill it during the prior nine months. It is just a matter of time during the exact same person’s life.

It is murder from one end of a life to the other at old age. When you think of an embryo, think of yourself who also entered life at that same stage. Each of those embryos diverted to such research is a life that will never see itself as a person on earth. That is something we cannot and should not allow.

Charles N. Valenti
Rehoboth Beach