Voices From The Readers
Abuse Of Rights
I am writing this letter because I smoke cigarettes. I've never written 'letters to the editor', but now I must voice my opinion.
'Happy New Year'... I think not. It's going to cost everyone a lot more money in 2008 than 2007. Why you ask? It is my opinion that we have a government that is out of control at both the federal and state levels. They spend money faster than I can smoke a cigarette. But somehow, again, they've got themselves in a money jam, and the best idea they can come up with to help solve the deficit is to add a $1 per pack tax on smokes. That's okay with me; I've seen it before. But let's not forget, come February we won't even be able to smoke in public places.
If they need money, how about utilizing other avenues? Or here's an idea - cut back on spending a little, no new cars, trucks, vacations, etc. for elected officials at our expense. Although that would probably cramp their lifestyle, I say they don't seem concerned about cramping mine (the whole can't smoke where I want thing).
Let's be real. If you're going to raise the tax on cigarettes, we should be able to smoke in public (if we choose). In fact, for a dollar more a pack, someone should come to my table and light it up for me. Okay that may have sounded like a bit much, but I feel strongly about this.
This country has lost all control of its government and they have damaged the trust we gave them, and now want us to believe they will make it up to us. I think they will make it up by using the tax on our cigarettes, my cigarettes, use my hard earned, out in the trenches every day, working for a living money, instead of reducing their pleasure spending.
If we lose any more control of our rights, are we any better off or does anyone care anymore? Thanks for listening.
Raise Booze Tax
While the General Assembly tries its best to cut wasteful state spending, it also looks for additional forms of revenue. There is one such source that has not been touched in nearly 20 years. Why not raise the tax on alcoholic beverages?
Research shows that there has not been an increase on these products in 20 years while everything else has an increase. The increase could be a two-fold benefit. It would be a big tax revenue raiser and if raised high enough may also stop some under age drinkers thereby hopefully keeping them from a life of alcoholism. This could also if effective help reduce the number of drunk driving related accidents and deaths. Just think of the number of people that could be helped if this was done. The statistics show more than 25 percent of traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers and there is also a high number of additional accidents every year caused by this. The question will be can this be done or do the lobbyists for the alcohol companies have their grip so tight on the Maryland Legislature that this cannot be done.
So if the state legislators and the governor are looking to not only raise additional monies but trying to help the people of our state let's do to underage drinkers what we are doing to smokers. Lets tax them out of their harmful habits.
So let's urge out representatives and governor to look at this two prong idea.
Making National News
Delmarva's natural destinations are making national news. A recent report by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge as the number one most-visited NWR in the nation, with 7.5 million annual visits. Millions more visit Bombay Hook and Prime Hook in Delaware, Blackwater and Eastern Neck in Maryland, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR near Cape Charles.
Now, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, better known as 'Dr. Beach', has identified two Delmarva coastal parks in his Top 5 'Best Beaches on the East Coast' in AARP magazine. Cape Henlopen State Park and Assateague Island National Seashore both hold prominent spots on Dr. Beach's Top 5. He points specifically to the amazing diversity of wildlife found in both parks, including birds, horseshoe crabs, and the world-famous Assateague horses.
Low-impact tourism - best defined as the least destructive way to provide experiences in areas that are ecologically and culturally sensitive - is big business on Delmarva, and our beaches and wildlife refuges are the heart and soul of Delmarva's low-impact travel economy. Chincoteague NWR generates $315 million in annual spending, and helps support 3,766 local jobs. For every federal dollar spent to manage Bombay Hook NWR, $23.38 is returned to the Delaware economy. Visitors to Delmarva beaches pump millions of dollars into our coastal communities, and support thousands of private sector jobs in our hotels, restaurants, and outfitters.
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, found that more than 87 million Americans, or 38 percent of the U.S. population age 16 or older, pursued outdoor recreation in 2006. They spent $120 billion pursuing their favorite activity. This includes about 71 million wildlife watchers, 30 million anglers and 12.5 million hunters.
Our Delmarva wildlife refuges, parks and beaches provide the low-impact traveler with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature exploration. Low-impact tourism meets the needs of these travelers, while protecting and enhancing our local communities through sustainable economic development.
Few other regions in the U.S. are blessed with the wildlife, open space and public waterways that we share on Delmarva. Our peninsula now boasts the number one most-visited National Wildlife Refuge in the nation, and two of the Top 5 beaches on the East Coast. Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE) is working to protect these resources, and invite the beachcombers, birders, paddlers, cyclists, surfers and anglers to visit - and spend money while they are here. If we take care of our natural resources, our tourism-related businesses will prosper, and our economy will benefit tremendously from travel dollars.
(The writer is the Executive Director of Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences.)
Tax Differential Eyed
(The following letter was sent Senator Lowell Stoltzfus and a copy forwarded to this publication.)
I would like to know if and when you are going to introduce legislation to amend Article 6, Section 6-305 of the Maryland Code to include Worcester County as a "shall have a tax offset' (differential).
It is a well-known fact that property owners in Ocean City are subsidizing the rest of Worcester County by paying the same rate of county real estate property taxes as other property owners in the county. However, the Town of Ocean City also taxes the property owners within its boundaries in order to provide services which Worcester County does not have to provide to Ocean City and which the county provides to the unincorporated portions of Worcester County. These include police, fire, ambulance, recreation and parks, public works (roads, trash collection), water and sewer, and a few others.
If Ocean City taxpayers did not pay for these services through their OC property taxes, the Worcester County government would have to provide these services to OC. While Worcester County does provide some 'grants' to Ocean City, this money does not come even close to covering the expenses of the services Ocean City provides to its property owners. The Property Tax Article 6 of the Maryland Code provides a remedy for the inequality and unfair taxation noted above through a process called 'TaxSetoff', also know as 'tax differential'. Article 6, Section 6-305 of the Maryland Code states that the governing body (County Commissioners or County Council) of the county shall grant a tax setoff to the municipal corporation (town or city). This mandatory requirement to provide equitable property taxation is presently only applicable to nine Maryland counties (Allegany County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Frederick County, Garrett County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County and Prince George's County). The remaining counties, including Worcester, are covered by Article 6, Section 6-306 of the Maryland Code, which states the governing body of the county may grant a tax setoff to the municipal corporation.
The good ole boys and girls of the Worcester County Commission have not provided a true 'tax differential' to Ocean City (or for that matter other incorporated towns) property owners. Instead, they have given very meager grants to Ocean City that don't begin to cover the costs of services that OC provides in lieu of the county providing those services.
The commissioners even have the nerve to ask Ocean City to provide fire and rescue (ambulance) services to West Ocean City, which is an unincorporated part of Worcester County and not part of the Town of Ocean City. I look forward to your response to this email as soon as possible.
Get Out Of Golf Biz
Ocean Pines should put the golf course up for sale. Whoa, before you panic, listen to the facts of such a proposal.
Sell the golf course with the deed restrictions that the golf course remain at the current yardage and that no residential building of any kind is allowed. So Ocean Pines still has a golf course and the golfers will benefit by a more competitive rate structure. For example, the Bay Club, which has 36 holes, charges $1,000 for membership compared to the Ocean Pines projected rate of $1,300. Plus the fact at the Bay Club, you get to play four rounds at the new Bayside course and four rounds at Bear Trap Dunes.
The golf course, clubhouse and maintenance equipment is worth $15 million at the minimum. Now this is where everybody wins. By selling the golf course, we not only would add $15 million to the reserve fund but we also eliminate a $1.2 million budget expenditure plus the current projected overrun of $129,000. This is a year-after-year savings.
Now with this much additional funds in our reserve fund we can cut our assessment by at least 50 percent. This will also increase our home values. Ask your realtor. This is the kind of fiscal responsibility the residents of Ocean Pines deserve.
Such a proposal is fair and will benefit each and every homeowner equally.
This is a bell that all Ocean Pines residents should ring.
I am sure there will be some opposing opinions, but I can't imagine what they will be. Every day companies sell divisions that lose money. American Airlines have their commuter airline up for sale because it is an asset that is losing money. General Electric has sold its' plastics division due to the continued increasing cost of the necessary raw materials.
Albert D. Risley
Feeling Ripped Off
We were interested in purchasing a piece of property in Wicomico County. So we went through the motion of contacting Planning and Zoning and the Health Dept., etc. to see if there were any restrictions. They told us the property was good.
So we purchased land located in Powellville. I asked what was the next step. They said a perk test that cost $300. Six months later they said it failed. So we filed for an appeal. As it turns out, no perk test was actually completed. They failed the property on a soil sample alone. It was also to be my choice where to do the test. Denis DeSonteo of the E.H.D. decided to do it where he wanted. As it stands, a perk test was finally completed by Garth Jones while using what happened to be damaged equipment and the wrong measuring formula according to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Groundwater Permits Division in Baltimore (1-800-633-6101).
The Wicomico Health Department's Garth Jones and others have been caught lying to me on so many other occasions they obviously do not know what they are doing. I've talked to engineers, septic companies and MDE in Baltimore nobody wants to get involved. But they all agree the test was done wrong. The health department said the file is closed. It's my understanding that I still have certain rights but not according to Wicomico County Health Dept. I also believe there is favoritism as to who passes and who does not. As it stands, I've lost my life savings and to add insult to injury I pay residential tax on property they say I cannot build on.
The Wicomico County Health Dept. is not much better than the con artists who take your money and do nothing to help you at all.