Mayor Cooper flip-flops on city debt and spending
In the 2008 City election, Sam Cooper, mayor of Rehoboth Beach, recorded a video that he used in his re-election campaign. (Available on YouTube.) In that video, Mayor Cooper said, “My opponents and several of his supporters on the Board of Commissioners are pushing projects that will overload the city with millions of dollars of onerous debt. These unnecessary projects include enlarging the city’s convention center and a new parking garage.”
Fast forward six years and Mayor Cooper is now pushing a new city hall at a cost of $15 million on top of approximately $30 million in debt from the ongoing outfall project. It appears that this debt is not onerous because it is Mayor Cooper’s idea. Although a solution to the city’s waste treatment is required by the state, the city hall certainly is not.
To my surprise, at the Rehoboth Homeowners Association meeting held recently, the mayor disclosed that the city plans to spend $500,000 “planning” the new $15 million city hall. This is shocking when the taxpayers of Rehoboth Beach have not even approved the concept of a new city hall. At city hall task force meetings, architects answer questions about the type of brick that will be used on the outside of the planned building. This project and planning continue on even though taxpayers have not been made aware of the scope of this project. The mayor feels that unattended meetings and articles in the Cape Gazette are sufficient notice to taxpayers of an upcoming referendum. In the meantime the spending continues.
In 2008 the Mayor states in his reelection video that “Your tax dollars should be spent with the utmost care.” Spending $500,000 on planning a new city hall does not represent utmost care.
If a family was going to spend money on a new house, they would not spend excessive amounts of money on the planning if they did not know if the family wanted the house and secondly if they had the ability to pay for it.
As I run for mayor of Rehoboth Beach in this year’s August election, I ask the city to stop spending our tax dollars on this planning. At this point, the magnitude of cost for this project has been determined. It is now time to ask your constituents whether they want this and whether they are willing to use their tax dollars to pay for this project.
As the city’s mayor, the first thing that I will do is to reach out to our community and ask taxpayers where they think our tax dollars should be spent. The mayor often says that a parking garage will not pay for itself. Well, a $15 million dollar city hall will not pay for itself either; it will be paid for by increasing taxes on the property owners in the City of Rehoboth Beach.