Legates responds to Claybrook

September 6, 2013

My letter to the editor, Referendum not ready for prime time, published Aug. 23, elicited a response from Joan Claybrook Aug. 30. Ms. Claybrook questioned my justification for a vote against a non-binding referendum for a gross receipts tax on Dewey’s businesses. Her letter lacks the following information:

A “non-binding referendum” was the issue in my letter; not a “non-binding resolution,” as stated in Ms. Claybrook’s opening paragraph.

The town’s budget and finance committee provided a verbal report of their June 22 meeting to the Dewey Beach commissioners. The committee unanimously recommended an ordinance and a referendum for a gross receipts tax to be considered by the commissioners.

After the committee’s June 22 meeting, two committee members recanted on their verbal approval, documented in emails after June 24 to the commissioners. One member testified to his rationale publicly, and both viewpoints were published in the Cape Gazette (Dewey tables gross receipts tax by Kara Nuzbak, July 22; letters to the editor, Aug. 1 and 16.)

On July 19, the town held a public hearing on the ordinance and the referendum. During a contentious discussion, I asked for the exact wording of the committee’s June 22 motion that included their recommendations. The committee meeting minutes had not been drafted nor ratified.

At the July 19 hearing, Dewey’s town solicitor advised against the committee’s proposal that was contingent upon pending litigation on the town’s authority to enact taxes.

Although Ms. Claybrook submitted written comments for the July 19 public hearing, the legal nuances of the committee’s proposal may have been clarified by her attendance.

The July 19 public hearing discussion ventured beyond FOIA compliancy with the public notice/agenda.

The lack of a request to add an agenda item for the next commissioner meeting Aug. 9 prevented a potential revote in a timely manner. Absentee balloting would begin Aug. 30 (proposed). I believed this timeline was inadequate for voter education.

Anna Legates
Dewey Beach commissioner

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