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.