Dewey Beach commissioners unanimously approved a slew of amended ordinances Oct. 15 to align various fee schedules with the fiscal year, eliminate parking fines in certain instances, and slightly raise the eight-day parking permit fee and hotel lodging tax.
Mayor Bill Stevens said some visitors incorrectly input their license plate information into the software application used to make payments and have been fined. These users have paid for parking, but due to a clerical error, the payment was not recorded; in these cases, Stevens suggested an administrative fee in lieu of a fine.
“Instead of penalizing them and creating more headaches for town hall, to simply add an administrative fee is the effect of this ordinance,” Stevens said.
Town Manager Bill Zolper agreed, stating that some people have parked legally and paid for it, but because they failed to put in the correct tag number, they receive a fine that starts at $30 and can go up to over $100.
“I feel a $5 administrative fee instead of a fine of $30 or higher is sufficient to have the person recognize that, yes, they made a mistake putting the tag number in,” Zolper said. “The admin fee covers the cost of postage when we send notices out that they have a fine on a traffic or parking violation and covers a little bit of time for our town employees looking up the info.”
Commissioners also voted to raise the eight-day parking permit rate from $75 to $90, which puts the rate equal to Rehoboth’s, Zolper said. The rate was last changed two years ago, he said, and is still very reasonable.
Commissioner Paul Bauer agreed, stating the raise is consistent with other towns and that many visitors rent a weekly house for thousands of dollars.
“I don’t think $15 is a showstopper for anyone,” Bauer said.
Commissioner David Jasinski suggested evaluating all parking permit structures in the future to ensure equity; Commissioner Gary Persinger agreed.
Regarding the beach assessment tax, Accounting Clerk Sheena Hall said the town’s tax year runs from May through April. The tax had been billed in November for collection in December, she said, and changing the due date will not move revenue between fiscal years. Residents will still have 60 days’ notice to make payment, she said.
Stevens said the bill will be distributed annually prior to April 1 and it will be due June 1. Commissioner David Jasinski said the change cleans up the ordinance and asked town officials to send residents a letter explaining that only the due date is changing, not the fiscal year.
In March, Zolper said, commissioners voted to approve a 1.5 percent lodging tax that went into effect July 1.
After speaking with the town legal counsel and finance department, Zolper said he would like to change the effective date to April 1 so it falls within the budget year.
Stevens said the ordinance allows the town to increase the lodging tax by .5 percent each year to a 3 percent limit; half of the now-2 percent tax goes to the general fund and the other half to infrastructure.
Payment and application dates for residential rental and business licenses were also modified to align with the budget year. The license year now begins May 1, with payment and applications for ongoing rentals and businesses due by April 30, and payment and applications for new rental licenses, and for out-of-town and in-town new businesses, due before the commencement of any rentals or business activity.
Ordinances are available at townofdeweybeach.com/Ordinances.