House News

An image of Delaware Legislative Hall, which serves as the Delaware state capitol, in Dover.  In the foreground is "The Delaware Continentals," sculpted by Ron Tunison and dedicated in 2008.  E. William Martin designed the Georgian Revival structure.  Delaware Legislative Hall opened in 1933.  This image © Capitolshots Photography, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

   The following is a release from the Republican Caucus in the Delaware House of Representatives.

Draft Bill Seeks to Impose Water Fee on Property Owners
A proposed bill that surfaced this week seeks to impose a new fee on Delaware property owners to remediate and protect the state’s impaired ponds and waterways.
A draft of the Clean Water for Delaware Act was circulated at Thursday’s Clean Water and Flood Abatement Task Force meeting and briefly discussed.
The concept is not new.  It first was mentioned in January 2014 by Gov. Jack Markell in his State of the State Address.  About five weeks later, the governor joined state environmental officials to unveil the Clean Water for Delaware’s Future initiative at a high-profile Wilmington press event.
The multi-faceted proposal was intended to address a litany of the state’s most vexing water issues, from cleaning polluted streams to improving the quality of drinking water.
A new fee imposed on residential and commercial property owners was to have financed the plan but, although specifics were rumored, a bill was never filed in the General Assembly.
That could soon change.
The draft measure discussed on Thursday seeks to create the “Clean Water for Delaware Fee” that would be levied on virtually all property owners. 
Calculated based on assessed value, single-family residential property owners would pay between $45 and $85 annually.  The owners of farm parcels could pay up to $15,000 per year.  Commercial and industrial properties — including apartment complexes — would face a fee of up to $25,000.
Properties currently excluded from taxation — such as those belonging to hospitals, universities, and government — would also pay the fee, although it would be based on 50 percent of assessed value and capped at $12,500.
Under the proposal, the fee imposed on residential property owners would be automatically hiked once every 10 years, matching the increase in the regional Consumer Price Index over the preceding decade.
The authors of the bill maintain it is needed because Delaware’s existing resources are insufficient to deal with the state’s “377 bodies of water that suffer from excess nutrients, low dissolved oxygen, toxins, and bacteria.”
Proponents claim the fee would raise about $30 million annually and leverage as much as $120 million in total financing.  Some of that money would come from bond sales.
The legislation would create a trust fund overseen by a nine-member board of directors.  Four of the posts would be cabinet secretaries, including the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), who would serve as the chairman.  The state’s three county administrators would each select a board member, as would the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem.
The bill’s discussion at the task force meeting this week seems to increase the likelihood the legislature will be considering the measure in 2016.
The 148th General Assembly does not return to work until January 12th, but the Clean Water for Delaware Act could be introduced as early as December 10th in a scheduled House pre-file.

6 Comments on "House News"

  1. Boobie says:

    Water fee? This comes from the Republican caucus? It’s a monetary attachment paid on a percentage basis according to the assessed value of your property.

    It is the first ever statewide property tax, and everyone with any bit of sense should oppose it quickly and swiftly. Why the Republicans are using the Democrat tactic of calling it a fee is beyond me.

  2. Rick says:

    A state with endless new “programs” will need an endless source of new revenue.

    That’s the problem with socialism as opposed to limited government with clearly delineated powers. When does the legislature say “enough?” Never. Hence, there will never be a limit on new “programs” and there will never be a limit on taxation. Until the system collapses.

    Socialism did not work in the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc. In Europe, Greece has already gone bankrupt, and Italy, Spain and Portugal are not far behind. It doesn’t work. So what is the goal of the socialist left in America? Follow that path to sure failure.

  3. Hack says:

    This bill would be the start of the Legislature using the county property tax as a revenue stream. Today its $85 a property and the next thing you know it’s an extra $500 in taxes and fees. The state needs to be kept off of the county property tax.

  4. Frank Knotts says:

    Alright, let’s slow our roll here. I did not write this release, if I had I would have named names on who was supporting this idea. All I can tell you is that this was a release from The Republican Caucus of the House. Its intention may simply be to alert the citizens.
    I can also tell you that the way it is explained above, it seems as though the board overseeing the money stands a good chance of being controlled by the Democrats. Four Cabinet members, and appointees from the Speaker and Pro-Tem, along with three people selected by the three county Administrators. Looks like a pretty well stacked deck to me.
    This sounds like the latest version of the “rain tax”. Just another tax based on simply existing.

  5. waterpirate says:

    This tax if approved will become just the latest newest slush fund of cash whose money is not used for its intended purpose. The issues cited in the release sound a lot like the issues that the EDU and impact fee’s were supposed to cover?? Where is that money, and why is it not enough?

    As a point of perspective.
    5 years ago the Gov. mandated the testing of all potable water wells in the state, with no direction on who would pay for it, or who would implement it. Big surprise, it is in limbo, as there are no monies in any of the logical state agencies to take on the project. Public Health, Water supply, or Delaware Rural water, et all.

    Slush funds of cash, generated by taxation with no constraints on usage are the way you balance the budget by robbing Peter to pay Paul for a service that nobody Neither of them wanted in the first place.

  6. mouse says:

    Just stop developers from bulldozing trees down to the water line and homeowners and agriculture from putting down so much nutrients and toxic chemicals

Got something to say? Go for it!