Development fees from home construction in Dorchester County brought in $1.5 million from 2009 to 2013. This money was given to schools, public safety and sheriff’s office. Where will this money come from in the future if the moratorium is enacted? Who will you to cut to meet the short fall?
The question before the county council is for legislation that would prevent the county from waiving the tax or rebate, or refund any portion of the tax. The Council is disposed to answer that question by imposing a moratorium on the tax for 2 years. This is unacceptable, the answer should be to set up criteria for waiving the tax, for example, for nonprofit organizations such as Talbot County and Wicomico County have done. I assume your staff provided a report on what other counties have done, in response to your March 18 request and you have more examples of what other counties have don.
A two year moratorium is not the answer. Especially with no criteria to determine the success of such a moratorium, and a significant hit to the school, ambulance and sheriff's budget. A recent study by the American Farm Trust indicates that for every $1 brought in by residential housing, $1.2 is spent on community services. Property taxes do not pay for home building. Nor should some sort of “economic development” be expected to pay for the added services, it just does not work that way.
The effect of development fees is complex and it should not be assumed that a reduction in fees means an increased tax base. For example, 16 of the 24 Maryland counties have development fees. On the Eastern Shore, Dorchester County’s $3,671 is very low compared to Talbot’s ($6,625), Wicomico’s ($5,231) and Caroline’s ($5,000). Kent, Chester, Somerset, and Worchester have no fees. On the other hand,
All of the evidence that we have come across in studies and reports from a national company and the International City/County Manager's Association (ICMA) (see below) is that having a city manager reduces costs, improves services, and, at worst, is revenue neutral or a small cost. If Cambridge is able to implement a city manager in FY 2015 on a part time basis and in FY 2016 on a full time basis, it is believed that the evidence will be clear from the work in FY 2015 that Cambridge will be in a better place and cost savings will be obvious and able to be shown to everyone. As FY 15 would be the time for a part time manager that could be accomplished under a contract with no benefits, any cost will not be significant in the context of a city budget of over $11.5 million.
The drafting group for this effort from the citizens group are the following: Bill Jarmon, Bill Wise, Will Dennehy, Gene Lauer, Steve Rideout.
Project Clean Stream Follow up:
Thanks to all who Project Clean Stream this year. Last year we organized volunteers to pick up trash at Great Marsh Park. It was a great success and the city of Cambridge picked up the trash collected. This year we expanded worked with our local fire company – Neck District Volunteer Fire Company to clean up our Neck of the woods in Dorchester County. Project Clean Stream took place April 5th. 24 volunteers, 114 bags and 3 tires and 2000 lbs of trash was removed! See our FB page for pix!
From My Backyard to Our Bay A Dorchester County Homeowner’s Guide: Actions to Improve the Water Quality of the Chesapeake Bay is now available, click here