Water Tax

Guest post by Michael Lindquist.
Now a water tax.
The most recent attempt to separate Delawareans and their money comes in Governor Markell’s proposed tax to fund water quality projects. The $30 million collected in the new tax would support up to $120 million in annual aid and borrowing for projects that would control flooding, protect drinking water, improve wastewater treatment and clean up toxic sites that jeopardize waterways and fish. Some taxpayer money also could go to existing or new industries facing big bills for cleaning up wastewater discharges or reducing harm from cooling water intakes. 
Myself having been involved in storm water retention ponds (of which 30 percent of the funds would be allocated for) first as an HOA board member and now VP of my Homeowners Association. I have had some experience with this issue. Over the past couple of years the issue of responsibility for storm water pond maintenance has been debated at the county level. (At least in Kent County) While legislation creating storm water pond districts has been going on for over a year, we (with 7 ponds) were able to perform maintenance through our HOA dues.  These same ponds which were inspected by the Kent Conservation district functioned as designed through both Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Super storm Sandy in 2012 and have no structural deficiencies whatsoever. Not bad for amateurs as one elected official once stated. The districts being created are to assist the developments that have ponds that are not in the best shape or the best maintained.
I’m sure nobody is against clean water, but many of us are already paying for water through our water utilities. Many of us are also paying for storm water ponds through our HOA dues. When we are told less than a dollar a week, or just 10 cents a gallon as in the gas tax proposal, these add up. In this day and age those small amounts when they add up can be a burden on our residents given that many people’s incomes have been reduced during the last few years.
The Governor states that the costs will be borne by both residents and businesses. I am not aware of too many if any businesses that will absorb this cost. We will all end up paying once, twice, many times in some instances.
Governor Markell wants to spend a lot for various improvements, whether roads, water, etc. We have to ask ourselves at what point are enough of these taxes enough? If said taxes are increased will we really see the improvements that the Governor seeks?

20 Comments on "Water Tax"

  1. waterpirate says:

    I wonder if the ipod and company in Possum point support this? After all it is what they wanted so badly.

  2. delacrat says:

    They did not need to raise taxes to bailout the likes of Deutsche Bank and GoldmanSachs . Ain’t it somethin’ that we have to raise taxes for clean water, but not dirty money ?

  3. Dave says:

    I actually would be supportive of the initiative, if it had not included a bail out for those individuals (associations) who did not exhibit personal responsibility for their own waste water and storm water systems. So there’s are HOAs out there who are going to get well off of my dime when they deliberately did n0t pay to have their systems maintained properly?

    If my HOA is doing it’s job and properly assessing homeowners, why isn’t everyone’s? Those systems should be assessed a higher tax rate. I’m not against the tax per se. What I am against, is that I have to pay to cure someone else’s deficiency, whether business, HOA, or individuals.

  4. waterpirate says:

    Those defficiency’s were prolly the result of the state and fed changing the rules and forcing stricter compliance, after an existing system was allready installed. The new DNREC regs for wells and septic do exactly that. Forced inspection to make sure the systems are up to code compliant status effective the day they are inspected, not the previous criteria of ” born on date compliance”. The whole blue card program for soils erosion is another example. DNREC and the Gov. are just expanding its policy to include retention ponds as well.

  5. Rick says:

    If the governor and the Delaware legislature can say that the constitution doesn’t say what it says, they certainly have the power to regulate water in any way, shape or form. After all, they are elected officials.

  6. Frank Knotts says:

    And Rick, if big government conservatives such as Sheriff Christopher can say that four words, “conservator of the peace”, can embody and empower the office with unlimited and undefined powers an authority, then they could also decide that any opposition to their agenda is criminal and arrest you or me. Do you really think that our founders intended no check or balance for any office? Especially one considered to be an executive office? Come on Rick you know better. That my friend would actually be tyranny!
    I know that you oppose Obama’s use of executive orders because it gives him unlimited powers with no check or balance, yet you seem to support Sheriff Christopher in his attempt to achieve complete autonomy. HUM?
    As for the so called water tax, it is merely a backdoor way to institute a rain tax.
    I dare any legislator to vote for another tax in an election year. Even tax and spend progressives with leanings towards environmental issues must understand that now is not the time to raise taxes on people who are already hurting, that is unless like many conservatives believe, the end game is to create more wards of the state by imposing so many burdens on the working class that they too must turn to state supported entitlement programs.

  7. Dunleve says:

    I have a feeling this is a way to provide a bailout for municipalities forced to comply with the clean water act. I would sooner pay a tax to have the State sue the EPA, as other States are(but I am sure this won’t happen).

  8. Rick says:

    …then they could also decide that any opposition to their agenda is criminal and arrest you or me.

    Of course, they’d need a charge.

    Do you really think that our founders intended no check or balance for any office?

    Those who wrote the Delaware Constitution declared that the Sheriff(s) shall be the “conservators of the peace.” Period. Now, what does the term “conservator of the peace” mean to you, or anyone with a scintilla of reading comprehension?

    I couldn’t care less about the sheriff issue. But, I do care about the law. If the legislature felt that the clause in question was archaic, they need only have deleted the sheriff’s powers by way of amendment.

    Instead, we were told that the plain words in the constitution don’t mean what they mean. It was a Groucho Marx decree;

    “Who are you going to believe; me, or your own two eyes?”

  9. Michael Lindquist says:

    Anyone can see that this is not about water quality or retention ponds. It is just another way to build a fund to tap when future state budgets need to be balanced.

  10. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick, that tired childish argument has been put to bed by due process of the law and our system of government. Just because you don’t agree with the result does not automatically make it wrong or corrupt. It was a weak argument when it was first made, and it is a ridiculous one now.

  11. Rick says:

    Try answering the question. What does the phrase “…shall be the conservator of the peace” mean to you?

    There’s nothing “childish” about the Delaware Constitution. It says what it says. You seem to be an advocate of “Newspeak.” If you can read, you know what “conservator of the peace” means.

    If the legislature wanted to dis-empower the Sheriff(s), they need only have amended the constitution; saying that plain English doesn’t mean what it clearly means is absurd, worthy of Humpty-Dumpty. That you acquiesce to such obfuscation is telling.

    Who are you going to believe; me, or your own two eyes?

  12. Rick says:

    The Delaware Constitution:

    Section 1. The Chancellor, Judges and Attorney-General shall be conservators of the peace throughout the State; and the Sheriffs shall be conservators of the peace within the counties respectively in which they reside.

    There is nothing vague or ambiguous here. Unless you pretend that words don’t mean what they say. If the AG is a “conservator of the peace,” then, under the same clause, so are the Sheriffs.

    Yet, Judge Grave ruled

    “Had the framers of the constitution chosen to limit who was a conservator of the peace to only the office of sheriff, the sheriff would have been dealt a better hand of cards…[b]ut, the framers of all of our constitutions referenced many officeholders in our government as being conservators of the peace.

    But the constitution didn’t name “many office-holders,” and in the counties, it named the sheriffs. Graves went on…

    “There is no authority to suggest or infer that the framers intended, at various times in the history of our state, that chancellors, judges, senators, representatives, the Attorney General, as well as county treasurers, secretaries, clerks of the court, registers, recorders, coroners and sheriffs, would all be law-enforcement officers with the authority to investigate and make arrests.”

    What? Obviously, the “framers” did intend that the chancellor, judges, the AG and the Sheriff(s) be conservators of the peace, since they are specifically granted these powers by the constitution.

    Clerks, registrars and coroners are not granted these powers, and unless charged with these powers under the auspices of the AG, do not have these powers.

    “The designation of so many different offices as being a conservator of the peace leads the Court to the obvious conclusion that being labeled a ‘conservator of the peace’ in our constitution means nothing more than the officeholder…”

    What a bunch of crap. Where does the court see in the constitution “so many different office-holders?” The only officials mentioned are judges, the AG and the Sheriff(s).

    Graves went on to state that the laws passed by the Delaware legislature in 2012 unambiguously removed any common-law arrest power the sheriff may have had.

    “Until recently, the question of whether the office of sheriff has any authority to arrest or investigate has laid dormant, if not dead, as far as the memory of all. The legislature merely formally recognized the reality that the sheriffs in all three counties were no longer in the law-enforcement business.”

    Since when is the constitution subordinate to the legislature? Because the issue has “laid dormant” doesn’t change the language.

    The Delaware Supreme Court, in upholding Graves’ decision, stated;

    “We hold that the term ‘conservator of the peace’ in the 1776 Delaware Constitution and each successive Delaware Constitution has always been used only to describe a changing variety of public officials.

    But the Delaware Constitution specifies an extremely limited number of “officials”…the judges, the AG and the Sheriff(s).

    I agree whole-heartedly that the Delaware State Police, under the authority of the AG, have state-wide arrest powers. However, I cannot understand why the legislature didn’t, at the time of creating the state police, amend the constitution, deleting the Sheriff(s) as “conservators of the peace.” But they didn’t.

    I might also add that, since the framers empowered both state officials (judges and the AG) and county officials (Sheriffs) with arrest powers, at the very least the Sheriff should be able to enforce county ordinances.

    Of course, had the legislature not been derelict by not amending the constitution, this issue would be moot. Of course, it’s moot now anyway, because the court ruled- by saying

    Words don’t mean what they clearly mean!

    Oh well, that’s Delaware.

  13. waterpirate says:

    Any update on when he plans to ” leave this Godforsaken county?” Also since I am throwing hand grenades, it is about time he and Vance came clean about what really went on down at GOP headquarters. They both clearly have alot of secrets to keep, not a fetching attribute for our elected officials.

  14. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick, in your world COP can mean anything that the sheriff chooses. That my friend is scary. Are you saying that the AG and the sheriff are exactly the same offices with the exact same powers and authorities?
    Do you have the same problem with the legislature passing law to define the AG’s powers? or would you embody Mr. Biden with unlimited and undefined powers?
    COP in the state constitution has no meaning except in common law, which is trumped once actual law is passed. Nothing the legislature did contradicts the constitution, since there is no definition written into the constitution, the legislature is free to define the offices of the Chancellor, Judges and Attorney-General and yes even the high sheriff of Sussex County.

  15. Dave says:

    “Any update on when he plans to ” leave this Godforsaken county?””

    Not that I’ve heard, but since he has announced he is running again, I bet that statement will be prominently featured in the campaign. I can’t wait to see how he walks it back.

    He has maintained a rather low profile since he crashed and burned at the Supreme Court. Another feature of the campaign will feature the cost to the taxpayer in defending the suit he brought against the county (and effectively the GA and the state). Naturally he will counter that with statements about how much revenue he brought in when he was actually doing the job he was elected to do, as if that was value added instead simply doing what he was hired to do. It should be an interesting campaign since he has generated so much campaign material.

  16. Rick says:

    Rick, in your world COP can mean anything that the sheriff chooses.

    How so? “Conserving the peace” means enforcing statutes- as you know, statutes are formulated by the legislature, voted upon, and if passed and signed by the governor, become law.

    This is my last post on the subject. I believe my own two eyes, you prefer to be told what plain English words mean. The state legislature and the courts have ruled that words in our constitution simply don’t exist.

    It would have been simple to eliminate what some would deem to be archaic language in the constitution, by way of amendment. The only reason why the Democrat-controlled legislature didn’t do this is that now they have a precedent for telling us what plain English words mean in the future- on any subject.

  17. Frank Knotts says:

    Dave, if we look at all the time he spends traveling around the country speaking to sheriff groups, we have to ask, was he running the office that brought in the revenue, or was his appointed deputy running the office. He must get a lot of vacation time!
    Now Rick is pulling definitions of what the peace is out of thin air. Those words mean nothing without being defined. They are defined in legislation, as you yourself said above Rick, ” “Conserving the peace” means enforcing statutes- as you know, statutes are formulated by the legislature, voted upon, and if passed and signed by the governor, become law.”
    You have just admitted that the sheriff can only enforce the laws that the legislature empowers him to. And so logic tells us that they can restrict the amount of laws that the office can enforce, even unto zero. Thank you for making my point so well Rick.

  18. Rick says:

    Now Rick is pulling definitions of what the peace is out of thin air. Those words mean nothing without being defined…

    You can’t figure-out what the “peace” is on you own?

    Both US and Delaware laws are based on English Common Law. The preeminent common law scholar in the history of Great Britian was Blackstone. Concerning sheriffs, he wrote…

    As the keeper of the king’s peace, both by common law and special commission, he is the first man in the county, and superior in rank to any nobleman therein, during his office. He may apprehend, and commit to prison, all persons who break the peace, or attempt to break it: and may bind any one in a recognizance to keep the king’s peace. He may, and is bound ex officio [officially] to, pursue and take all traitors, murderers, felons, and other misdoers, and commit them to jail for safe custody. He is also to defend his county against any of the king’s enemies when they come into the land: and for this purpose, as well as for keeping the peace and pursuing felons, he may command all the people of his county to attend him; which is called the posse comitatus, or power of the county: which summons every person above fifteen years old, and under the degree of a peer, is bound to attend upon warning, under pain of fine and imprisonment. But though the sheriff is thus the principal conservator of the peace in his county, yet, by the express directions of the great charter, he, together with the constable, coroner, and certain other officers of the king, are forbidden to hold any pleas of the crown, or, in other words, to try any criminal offense. For it would be highly unbecoming, that the executioners of justice should be also the judges; should impose, as well as levy, fines and amercements; should one day condemn a man to death, and personally execute him the next. Neither may he act as an ordinary justice of the peace during the time of his office: for this would be equally inconsistent; he being in many respects the servant of the justices.

    IN his ministerial capacity the sheriff is bound to execute all process issuing from the king’s courts of justice. In the commencement of civil causes, he is to serve the writ, to arrest, and to take bail; when the cause comes to trial, he must summon and return the jury; when it is determined, he must see the judgment of the court carried into execution. In criminal matters, he also arrests and imprisonshe returns the jury, he has the custody of the delinquent, and he executes the sentence of the court, though it extend to death itself.

    Does that clarify what “the peace” is?

  19. Rick says:

    From Fox News, today…

    ATLANTA – During a speech in Atlanta Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Friday defended interpreting the Constitution as it was originally written and intended.

    Scalia delivered a speech titled “Interpreting the Constitution: A View From the High Court,” as part of a constitutional symposium hosted by the State Bar of Georgia. Originalism and trying to figure out precisely what the ratified document means is the only option, otherwise you’re just telling judges to govern, Scalia argued.

    “The Constitution is not a living organism,” he said. “It’s a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.”

  20. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick if you are still following this thread, let me point out once again how you have made my point when you quote Justice Scalia, “It’s a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn’t say what it doesn’t say.”

    This is also true of the state constitution, it says conservator of the peace, but it doesn’t say what that is. As for common law, once again, it only applies until actual law is passed that has no conflict with the constitution.

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