I’m not sure as a resident of the Town of Laurel if I am too happy with the generosity of our Town Fathers in waiving almost $800,000 in impact fees associated with the new school construction project. Before you shoot the messenger, let me tell you why.

Not only is the town in the hole financially, having taken over half million dollars from the towns reserve fund since Glenn Steckman left to cover the town’s budget shortfalls year after year and the town desperately needs the money, but I feel the town should have pro-rated the amount so all of the good-will wouldn’t fall on the taxpayers who live in town.

When I went on the Laurel Council in the 70’s I found the town was broke; I was put on the finance committee as chair; I found a U of DE survey that stated 60% of the people who lived in the Laurel School District lived out-of-town, 40% lived in town. I suggested the town in an effort to save money that we should pay only 40% of the costs of the Little League electric, continue collecting trash, and still pay for the sewer and water and have the League pay the other 60%. Well all hell broke loose from those living out-of-town, and I think I sold less than a dozen baseball shoes that year compared to dozens.

Forty years later that number is probably 80% or higher of those who live out-of-town and 20% who live in town. People showed me when the Horsey project was on the agenda they didn’t want to come into town or any parts of it, but they want to continue using our services and allow the few to pick up the tab.

This $800,000 was already in the referendum, and people voted knowing how much in taxes they would be paying.  I still believe today that formula should have been used in pro-rating the $800,000.

Yes the county waived $232,000 in construction related fees,  but from the county all you get is a piece of paper, a permit; from the town we will have our building inspector have to be there several times a week, our public works department will be there, and from time to time our police department will be needed to direct traffic when large tractor loads of building materials are delivered or streets blocked off from traffic.

The school district will give the town $100,000 for them to hire a part-time building inspector, a drop in the bucket. Paul Frick is the only one who does plan reviews; he will be at the school. When a resident needs plans renewed and Mr. Frick is at the school how long does a resident have to wait to get an approval for a permit?  Twenty thousand a year for five years ain’t much these days.  

In the past the town eliminated fees for the new library, not my favorite idea, but one I could live with.

I don’t mind paying my fair share and maybe a little more, but I’m tired of carrying the load for everyone. Two years ago a man came into this town, spent a million on a new building, asked permission to have a private well to subsidize his rain water, and the town turned him down.

Priorities are a little screwed up mayor.



  1. Frank, I feel for the folks in town. Can’t say weather I really agree or disagree with the situation! One thing I can say is that when we moved back to Laurel 10 years ago one of my first statements was; ” we ain’t moving into town because that is just one more Government to control what we do.”

  2. Does the town actually have someone trained in this type of construction and who wrote the towns code covering a project of this type. It brings to mind the person the board hired to oversee this but is not trained in engineering. Might be a great paper pusher but who is making sure we are getting what we’re paying for.

    • David hopefully the construction manager will make sure everything is on the up and up; Mr. Frick is knowledgeable somewhat mostly in home construction; this is indeed more than he has ever worked with. Time will tell.

      I hope you are correct that plant will start up again; great facility.He does have one person who is making the rods far from the 25 he was going to hire.

      • Last couple times been by there 4 or 5 cars in the lot. I had heard he was a good employer that tried to do right by his employees. Would really love to see him up and going again.

  3. Great point David W. Just like the Government, if they keep us in the dark they can get away with anything they want and we will not know the difference ! All we can do is pray that someone will keep them honest !

  4. John and David, I think Frank could legitimately accuse you of having a liberal bias. You either completely missed his point or else you decided to change the subject to gripe about something else. His point was that those using the service should pay their fair share, i.e. the townspeople should only “contribute” their share of the impact fees. If the 80% of the rest of the county residents and their representatives chose not to pay their “fair share” that’s their own decision.

  5. I would of thought the fees would of been part of the figured cost and all would have paid and just really wondered who would be qualified to do these inspections . Thought I would ask while the subject was about the new schools.
    On a totally off subject comment the above mentioned company is showing signs of being back in production hopefully?

  6. Bob, I see that point but, it is the town’s fault that those in town do not pay their fair share. The town has allowed all of the sub-standard housing and rental properties to become the majority of the tax base thereby diluting the fees collected. If the town raised their standards and, consequently increased the tax base then their share of the payment would be greater and would increase the percentage paid by town residents. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you live in town, in a rental that is worth $60,000.00 your landlord only pays taxes on that amount. But if you live in town in your own property that is worth twice that much, because you care then you pay taxes on that amount. The town is doing nothing to increase the tax base on what they have. They are resting their Laurels on what the tax base could be with annexation. Raise the bar !! I do not want to be accused of liberal bias, yuck!!!!

  7. Title 14 of the Delaware Code, Chapter 20, Section 2006 discusses what impact and permit fees a municipality can assess on a school district for any school construction project. In all likelihood some of the fees being waived could not have been assessed against the school district anyway.

  8. I feel it just goes full circle back to the original argument when the district’s financial troubles were finally made transparent for all to see. If we cannot afford all the expenses that is part of this tremendous building project, including all fee’s (which I believe I recall seeing as part of the initial informational packages taxpayers were presented with)…Then please remind me why are are entering into this endeavor while there are students STILL sharing pieces of paper in the classrooms?
    It is a lovely gesture that a large portion the fee’s be waived, but if we cannot afford them from the get go, we have no business in pursuing this project right now. Let’s hire and/or supplement the teaching staff and make sure the students have what we need at this current time and put the rest on the back burner.

    Side note; was anyone else saddened by the announcement that Laurel Middle was now apart of a program called ” In the Zone”, issued by the state. As soon as they mentioned it was a program for the lowest performing schools, I just shook my head. What a horrible shame.

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