State needs to make assurances

Well, we should have probably seen this one coming.

In another fine example of the state’s horrible timing, a bill introduced in Dover last week would restrict county and town governments from collecting transfer taxes on some rural developments. The money would instead go to the state, where it would be funneled to the disaster that is the state transportation fund.

There is one truth we will certainly not argue: Towns and counties became far too dependent on transfer taxes when the real estate market was exploding. However, one can’t help but scratch his or her head when reading the response from Connie Holland, the director of state planning.

“The counties and the local jurisdictions were told not to rely on the realty transfer tax, not to put it in the general fund and not to expect it,” she said. “The state simply can not continue to bear the tax burden of development in areas that don’t have the infrastructure to support it. It’s not fair to citizens because they expect the infrastructure to support their way of life. Those people expect to have their services.”

That’s all well and good. However ...

The people down here expected the state to actually begin work on the Route 26 project. The people down here expected the state to do a lot of local road projects, in fact.

Also, while Holland was wagging her finger at the county and towns, did she not notice the irony that she’s basically saying, “The towns and county can’t depend on this money, because we are now.”

More absurdity, and right at the time when many towns are increasing property taxes and license fees to compensate for lost transfer tax monies.

We completely understand the state’s argument that all the developments that have been approved in the area have caused a strain on the state with the increased need for roads. However, are we to believe that transfer tax taken by the state from Sussex County developments and home sales will indeed go to Sussex County projects?

There really isn’t a great track record there to draw from, is there?

State Rep. Gerald Hocker told the Point that he has mixed feelings on the bill because he worries about the impact on the towns, but he does feel the state is overburdened with the amount of developments being approved down here. And it is the kind of suggestion that makes you go back and forth.

That being said, we’d like to see some wording in House Bill 111 that specifically assures that money coming from Sussex County stays in Sussex County, especially if it’s coming from our governmental coffers.