Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ain't No Party Like a Dewey Beach Party...


You'd think I'm trying to beat up on Dewey with all the coverage they've been getting, but they have just ended up making the news a lot recently. But, I think Dewey Beach is a very good model in our area for a place that is, like many others across the country, facing the brunt of the economic crisis.

You see, Dewey Beach is a curious animal. Back in '81 when the place got its charter, the residents made sure to include a "no property tax" provision in there. That's right, folks. Property owners in Dewey Beach pay no property taxes.

Now, that's a great deal if you own property in Dewey, maybe. Not having a property tax means that the local government must depend upon other, less stable, sources of revenue, including the now-infamous transfer tax (the 3% kickback the government gets whenever you sell your house) as well as things like parking tickets and business license fees (both of which are very dependent upon tourism and, thus, a robust economy). In this economy, all of the sources of revenue that Dewey has come to depend upon (and, let's be honest here, they've made a killing for the last couple of decades) have all but dried up. No multimillion dollar beach houses a selling, and fewer people are vacationing there, so that means fewer speeding and parking tickets.

The result of all this is an economic nightmare. The government has virtually no revenue stream to rely on, so now they have to make some serious decisions about what they can and can't afford to do. Today, the Town announced that they will be raising fees and cutting police and lifeguards in order to make up for a current budget shortfall. The leadership there says that these changes will result in a surplus, which is good news for the people who live in Dewey.

Of, course, what do they care? Nobody can raise their taxes, and they'll have lots of watering holes to choose from when they need to escape from the Great Depression II.

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