Newark City Council To Raise Taxes On Residents and Business Owners

Newark – You probably didn’t know it but the Newark City Council is about to vote to raise your taxes. On Monday October 9,  2017 council plans to vote for a new tax that will effect every Newark resident and business owner.  After years of trying to impose this new “Impervious Area Tax” on residents, it looks like the new tax may have the votes to pass.

After the previous attempts failed to garner much support, council hired an outside consulting group to help develop a new plan. The group was originally hired to update the water rate study they did for the city in 2011, according to reports.  The group also looked at the Impervious Area Tax idea and has now added it to their proposal. Good news it only cost the residents of Newark an estimated $100,000 to commission the new study.

On June 27, 2017  the consulting group presented their study along with a proposal to council. At that meeting the group recommended that the Impervious Area Tax be imposed on every Newark resident and business owner. That’s right, if you own property in Newark a new department created by the Oct. 9th vote, named the Stormwater Utility, will tax you based on the amount of impervious area on your property. If it isn’t dirt or grass the city wants to tax it. In a follow up email Kelly Bachman, the City of Newark’s Communication Manager, wanted to make it clear that no new staff would be hired to implement the new Stormwater Utility.

At that meeting council discussed how to implement the new tax. Also discussed was the amount each resident and business owner would be taxed. As council discussed the tax estimates with the group, they discovered that city owned properties were included in the numbers used to average the tax amount. It was clear to some on the council that more work was needed.

At the conclusion of that June meeting Councilman Mark Morehead, apparently understanding that a new tax would not be popular with his constituents, told the consultant group that they were going to have to find a way to sell a 10% tax increase to the public. In our original post we mentioned that the video of that exchange no longer appeared on the City of Newark’s Facebook page. Bachman let us know that it can be viewed on the city’s Livestream page HERE. Although the video runs for about three hours it is a must see. Council’s questions begin at ( :46).

The 10% that Moorehead referenced is just the beginning . If the tax is implemented, it’s likely the city will increase the tax over the coming years, as they have with the water rates in recent years. Since 2013 council has raised taxes on water almost 30%.

If things weren’t convoluted enough, the city is also proposing a Rodney Project Tax at the same time. The Rodney Project Tax is a new proposed tax that would be used to build a new $6 – $10 million dollar storm water pond in the area of the old Rodney Dormitories.The city is calling this a Stormwater Pond Fee. At the recently held workshop for the Rodney Project Tax, it was clear that the residents were conflating the Rodney Project Tax (Stormwater Pond Fee) with the Impervious Area Tax’s name (Stormwater Fee).

Residents should not confuse the Rodney Project Tax (Stormwater Pond Fee) which sounds similar to the Impervious Area Tax’s name (Stormwater Fee) as they are separate agenda items. Council plans to vote on the the Impervious Area Tax on Monday October 9, 2017. The Rodney Project Tax will be voted on in a referendum held next year.

The city is planning to fund the Rodney Project Tax/Pond by taking out a loan from the state’s revolving loan program if the referendum is passed. Residence would then see their new Stormwater Fee (The Impervious Area Tax) + the New Stormwater Pond Fee (Rodney Project Tax) added to their monthly water bill.

This newest version of the Impervious Area Tax has been quietly working it’s way through council for over a year. With light media coverage and a sparse group of residents attending council meetings on a regular basis, usually less the 8 people, the idea has been meet with little opposition.  Residents and business owners that would like to learn more should contact their council member this week. You should also make plans to attend the October 9, 2017 meeting at City Hall. Although the meeting is scheduled for 7:00 pm it’s not unheard of for council to begin some of the proceedings at 6:00 pm.

This week is your last chance to share your feedback with your council member. Once they vote on the tax, which they’re calling a fee, it’s here forever.


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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at [email protected].

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