LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Empty rhetoric’ is not what Dover needs right now

The subject of taxation always stirs emotions, especially when the prospect of a tax increase is mentioned. Dover hasn’t imposed a property-tax increase since 2010 or an electricity-rate increase in at least five years. Many reader comments and letters have been published, including some related to our own letter published June 24. [“Dover made ‘brave choice’ with tax vote”]

We all know that property taxes have for decades been based upon the assessment of the house, the lot size, and its location. At the League of Women

Voters candidates’ forum prior to the City Council and mayoral elections, we, on fixed incomes, purposely asked how the candidates felt about increasing property taxes in Dover. Because of their reactions, we determined to learn as much as we could by attending (televised) City Council and (untelevised) Finance Committee meetings.

The city of Dover provides many services to its citizens — a fine police force with 10 new officers (proposed 10 years ago without success) and cadets now on patrol, hard-working city employees, assistance to our volunteer firefighters for purchasing up-to-date equipment, low-cost regular and bulk trash removal, our city parks — and so much more.

Council members repeatedly stated that their primary concern is for the safety of Dover’s residents and businesses. An impartial study of police, EMT, and fire-safety procedures was well-covered in an excellent Delaware State News article featuring interviews with council members and the police chief. [“Dover OKs services analysis” July 6] Even two members who voted against the budget voted for this report, reasoning that it benefits all of Dover because nothing is perfect and improvement is always possible.

Particularly during the Finance Committee meetings, the council members who attended and the mayor offered various suggestions and proposals to the city staff. They worked together to produce the alternate budget, saving nearly $1 million, and brought the tax increase down 5 percent to 19.9 percent. The facts of what it really costs to run every aspect of our city were clearly presented and discussed at these meetings, and review is ongoing.

Plans are in the works to start the budget process earlier for the next fiscal year. The democratic process works, even when we are not all pleased with the results.

We sincerely believe that each person is entitled to have his/her own opinion respected, but no one is entitled to have his/her own facts. No one is entitled to ignore what actually happened just to suit one’s personal opinion. Repeating the empty rhetoric of “not a revenue problem but a spending problem” is simplistic and convenient, particularly for those who do or have done nothing but complain or grandstand. Oddly aggressive personal comments are uncalled-for and accomplish nothing.

It’s human nature for everyone to want to keep these services but not pay more taxes for them. No one goes to council demanding to pay more taxes and no one is happy with this outcome. Let’s take this opportunity to work together personally with our fellow citizens, elected officials and city staff for the betterment of life in Dover — there’s nothing to lose by trying!

Alan and Janis Gaddis
Dover

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