Dewey businesses appeal to Supreme Court

Chancery dismisses Hwy. One’s motion to amend
Highway One businesses, including Bottle and Cork and Rusty Rudder, are appealing a court decision that allows Dewey Beach to tax its businesses. BY KARA NUZBACK
January 23, 2014

Highway One businesses in Dewey Beach are appealing a Chancery Court ruling that allows the town broad taxing authority over its businesses.

Attorney Stephen Spence filed a Jan. 13 notice of appeal to Delaware Supreme Court, challenging Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock’s Dec. 17 decision.  The notice contained no details about the appeal.

The initial lawsuit was filed in an attempt to lower business license fees.  In the Feb. 26, 2013 complaint, Spence argued annual business license fees are used to fund town operations and should be deemed a tax.  The town’s charter does not authorize a tax on businesses, Spence said.

The town countered the argument, saying the all-powers clause gives town council the authority to impose any tax that is not specifically prohibited in the charter.

Glasscock sided with the town and dismissed the complaint.

Spence filed a motion to amend the original complaint Dec. 23, in Chancery Court.  In the motion, Spence argued the broad taxing power implied by the ruling would allow town council to charge fees that far exceed the cost of regulation.

Before Glassock could consider the motion, Spence filed an appeal of his decision in Delaware Supreme Court.

In a Jan. 14 letter to Spence and Dewey Beach attorney William Manning, Glasscock said, “As the plaintiffs appeal my final order, dismissing their complaint, I consider their motion to amend the complaint withdrawn.”

Spence is expected to file the full appeal to Delaware Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

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