Rehoboth Beach residents ask candidates questions

Rehoboth Beach candidates answer home owners concerns

By Ryan Mavity


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Silver Lake homeowners got the first crack at questioning the candidates for mayor and commissioner in this year's Rehoboth Beach municipal election.

Save Our Street, a group of Scarborough Avenue Extended homeowners, hosted a forum featuring mayoral candidates Tom McGlone and incumbent Sam Cooper, as well as commissioner candidates Mark Hunker, Richard Kirchhoff and incumbent Lorraine Zellers. Despite announcing his withdrawal from the race, Commissioner Dennis Barbour also answered questions from the group.

Each candidate was given 15 minutes to answer three prepared questions. No questions were taken from the floor. Each question will be listed, followed by excerpts from the candidates’ answers.

The city of Rehoboth provides incentives to businesses. Given the tax structure of the city, how do you reconcile this with the current tax increase for property owners?

Hunker:
“ I don’t know that I was going to go out loud and proud and say, ‘ Tax me,’ as a busi-ness owner on Baltimore Avenue who does not own their property, I don’t pay the taxes.”

Hunker said if revenue is needed, the city could come up with a fair and equitable formula for taxing businesses.

Kirchhoff:


“ In any budget you’re going to have to try to make sure there is a rough parity between who’s paying and who’s benefiting. We have to spread that burden broadly as possible between the residents, property owners, the business community and the visitors that come here.”

Zellers:


“ The city does give incentives to businesses. We give the business owners free parking passes for their employees so they can use the Park & Ride. We do that because we want to reduce the amount of cars in the city. We also give the same parking permits and things like that to the Realtors for their rental licenses. But we try to balance that. We do give incentives to us, our residents. We have the same permits and parking passes, and the city does the recycling pro-gram.”

Cooper:


“ The property tax is the broadest revenue source that we have in this city. It touches everybody. It’s also the most reliable. You know what you are going to take in.

“ I don’t think you can separate the business community and the residential. I think the commercial areas should complement the residential, not the other way around. I think the residential community is what drives this city.”

McGlone


said various business-people around town told him that the businesses did not feel the city offered them any incentives, other than a free parking pass.

“ Either the businesses don’t understand, because the city is not educating them as to what the incentives are, in which case the city needs to do a better job of educating the businesses in town. Or there aren’t any.”

What do you see as the infrastructure problems in the city and how and when do you plan to pay for improvements ( i. e. trees, sewers, lakes)?

Kirchhoff:
“ You have to really have a plan, I think. You have to see a well- defined plan that the city’s budget is tied to. Yes, there is the comprehensive development plan, but I don’t see that the city has really moved to implement that plan in a way that is reflected in the budget. It just is sort of standing out there by itself. That needs to really be the plan, the document that guides how the city decides what it spends its money on, what its priorities are. I think the city has to commit itself to coming up with an infrastructure improvement/ replacement, new construction kind of budget.”

Zellers:


“ As far as infrastructure projects, I think the city is doing pretty well; actually, I think we work. We’re doing some things right, and I think we want to continue with that.”

McGlone:


“ I’m fiscally very, very conservative. I am not a tax guy. My goal is to basically keep costs under control and at the same time do things that ulti-mately will benefit the city. The two big things that are out there are ocean outfall and also the municipal building.

“ When I get elected mayor, one the things I would be interested in doing is asking Sam Cooper to stay on and help with the ocean outfall project because of his expertise.”
Cooper
said over the last 10 years, the city has engaged in many infrastructure projects, such as the Rehoboth Avenue Streetscape project, the Lake Gerar Bridge and the Boardwalk rebuild, with the ocean outfall project in progress.

“ Looking back, if you’d have told me we would get all these projects done in a 10- year span I would have said, ‘ What are you smoking?’” Cooper said.

How do you plan to preserve the small- town feel of the city against pressures from the Sussex County Council and other commercial interests for further development?

Hunker:
“ Intergovernmental relations are the key thing to any city for government. If you think you are an island in Rehoboth and not who’s outside of you – Sussex County, the state, other local governments – your island will drown. You will be subsumed quickly. You have to talk to people.”

Zellers:


“ I think what we can do is maintain our town, within our city limits. We have things in place like the FAR and site- plan review and our tree ordinance, those kinds of things. I think that will help us manage and keep our small town the way we want it.

“[ Silver] Lake is a more difficult issue. There are ownership issues. But we do have a task force in place.

“ We’re working with DNREC and SOLA3 and the city and Country Club Estates. The long-term solution will cost some money, and it’s something we may have to put in the budget just so we can show good faith when we go to the state and say, ‘ Can you please give us money.’”

Kirchhoff:
“ I think the city really needs to step it up and become more engaged, more aggressive in forming, whatever you want to call it, a partnership, an alliance, some kind of working relationship with Sussex County Council and the state on the area between the canal out to the high-way. It’s clearly going to impact the city in the future.”

Cooper:


“ I’ve been working for many, many years with different groups and gone to how many county meetings over the years and have been frustrated by the county’s response.

“ Somebody seems to have been kicking up the idea of changing facilities in the city. I personally would not encourage the city to encourage daytrippers. I don’t think that’s good growth for the city. We should cater first to the people who stay in the hotels and the cottages here.

“ I think we have to be careful. I have never wanted to exclude anyone from Rehoboth. But it can become too overcrowded that you destroy everything that’s good about it.”

McGlone:


“ The reason I’m here and the reason I love it here is because of the people. The small-town feel and the small-town charm and everything that we love has to do with the people here. In terms of pressure from development, Save Our City did a great survey asking people questions. I would love for the city to do a survey like that.

What development do people want? What development don’t people want? So we get a real input of what people are thinking.”