In a 3 to 2 vote, the Dewey Beach Commissioners defeated a motion to put a referendum on the ballot in September that would've allowed voters the choice of allowing the town to implement its own gross receipts tax on businesses. Mayor Diane Hanson, Gary Mauler and Anna Legates voted against the motion, with Joy Howell and Courtney Riordan voting in favor.
The public hearing on the gross receipts tax at Friday night's meeting lasted more than two hours. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf spoke at the meeting, and told the commissioners that none of them had gotten in touch with him about the state's role in the taxation process. Schwartzkopf explained that a new tax would be subject to General Assembly approval, which is consistent with how the town has approved new taxes in its 32-year history.
Budget & Finance Committee member Mike Dunmyer expressed his concerns about the idea of a town gross receipts tax, saying he regretted the proposal and calling it a mistake. Dunmyer calls a gross receipts tax "a bad idea" that would leave everyone in town worse off.
According to Riordan, who's also the Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, if a gross receipts tax were to be implemented in Dewey Beach, it would be on businesses that would make more than $200,000 a year in revenue. He says 19 such businesses would be subject to the tax, and would bring in around $160,000 a year in revenue for the town. Gas, alcohol, tobacco and motels would be exempt from the tax. Friday's meeting concluded with the announcement of a commitment by Mauler and Starboard co-owner Steve Montgomery, representing the Dewey Business Partnership, to have discussions on forming a better financial plan for the town to deal with its ongoing budget deficit starting after the end of the summer season in September.
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