There is no secret that one giant draw for attracting people to move their permanent residences to this community is the low tax rates. Oh, housing costs have become expensive, particularly in the coastal towns, but the cost of living stays fairly reasonable for people because of the low taxes.
It might be the time to readdress these tax rates.
We’ve seen a significant outcry in Bethany Beach recently regarding an increase in property taxes. Yes, nobody wants to pay more money for the same amount of services, however, the rate is still ridiculously low, especially when compared to other areas — both locally and nationally.
We’ve become spoiled. The salad days of transfer tax monies padding municipal coffers are certainly behind us right now. Because of those transfer taxes, towns have been able to expand the services they provide without significantly raising fees or property taxes. This has created a two-fold problem.
The first part is that all these services require money, so property owners get a little pinched to compensate for the lack of transfer taxes. The second part is that the towns didn’t do a good enough job of saving some of that extra income, and now find themselves in a crunch.
In a story on beach replenishment in this week’s Coastal Point, State Sen. George H. Bunting opined that towns, and Sussex County government, need to start putting aside money for future replenishment projects. Bunting’s take was that the federal government is going to be more and more strapped for extra money with the war and other issues at hand.
That, to us, makes complete sense. Which of course means it will probably never happen.
Towns really need to start building reserve funds — if not for beach replenishment purposes, to simply ensure the continued solvency of town business. And Sussex County Council needs to look beyond padding the county’s till with excess money and becoming of assistance to the local towns. Their decisions impact the quality of life for people who live in incorporated towns just as much as it does for those who live in the unincorporated regions. It’s time to start contributing.
But it’s time for all of us to contribute. Minor hikes in property taxes and town fees would be a huge step in protecting the services we all enjoy, as well as give government officials the opportunity to put some money away for future replenishment projects, or just a rainy day.
Yes, many of us moved here because of the reasonable property taxes. However, the increases won’t do anything to change the fact that we still have some of the lowest property taxes one can find. We also have to remember that many of us moved here because of the quality of life, and we can all make sure that continues with a little sacrifice.