Ocean View establishes grant fund, rental tax

When Ocean View Town Council voted on Tuesday to set up a grant fund for emergency service organizations serving the town, Millville Fire Company finally received some help with its funding woes.

Maybe. Probably.

Actually, Fire Chief Graig Temple didn’t seem sure at all on Tuesday that the grant fund would actually help his company.

“If we were to apply for a grant and Bethany Beach Volunteer Company does, would they also be qualified?” Temple asked council on Tuesday, stressing that Millville’s company directly serves Ocean View and receives assistance from Bethany. “How would it look if they’re grant outweighed ours?”

Temple petitioned the Millville and Ocean View councils in early summer to help fund the company, which has been stressed by rampant growth in the area. Millville’s council was stalled in adopting a proposed impact fee because the General Assembly’s session ended on June 30 without legislators passing a related and necessary charter change for the town. The Assembly reassembles in January.

Ocean View never proposed an impact fee; instead opting for the grant fund that would not only be available for Millville’s company but all emergency service organizations that serve the town. A fee of .25 percent to .5 percent of the advertised construction cost will be charged with new building permits in the town. That money will go into the grant fund. The exact percentage has not yet been decided. Emergency service organizations can apply at the end of the year for a grant from the funds built.

“This ordinance is not intended to be solely a funding source for Millville Fire Company,” Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader said Tuesday.

Town Councilman Roy Thomas eased Temple’s mind a bit before ending the discussion.

“We listen. We’ve proved that we listen,” Thomas said. “Your services are important to us. We appreciate that.” (Read continuing coverage on Millville Fire Company’s funding issues in next week’s Coastal Point.)

Rental tax solidified

Ocean View town council voted on Tuesday, after months of discussion, to implement a 3 percent rental tax as a stable source of revenue for the town. According to the ordinance adopted Tuesday, the tax will be applicable to any type of property in Ocean View being rented or leased residentially or commercially.

Landlords will be responsible for paying the rental tax at two dates, depending on when the property is being rented. While those landlords will be the ones getting taxed, rental costs in the town will likely rise because of the tax, officials have noted in the past.

The idea of implementing a rental tax first arose during the budgetary process this spring to help cover decreasing revenues, especially from the transfer tax. Ocean View, like all other towns in the area, receives a transfer tax, a percentage of the sale or resale of a home within town limits.

Through May and June of 2006, the town only received $105,897 from the tax, according to town officials. In May of 2005 alone, Ocean View received $238,037 from the formerly-steady revenue source.

The disappointing trend has continued through July and August. This August, the town received just more than $24,000 from the tax, after bringing in more than $201,000 in August of last year, Town Manager Kathy Roth said Tuesday, adding that the town will likely be under the recently budgeted number of $500,000 for those tax revenues this year.

“Since January (the transfer tax revenues) has been decreasing compared to last year,” Roth said in an earlier interview. “We make predictions on numbers but we knew the market would slow up. There was some feeling that the market may be saturated.”

A committee was appointed to study the feasibility of a rental tax, which was popular among most members of town council and the financial committee.

”It’s fair,” said Councilman Roy Thomas, then only a member of the town’s financial committee. “These are people that don’t pay tax (in Ocean View). They come in and enjoy our Public Works and Public Safety.

“It’s something we can do to raise some revenue,” Councilman Eric Magill added. “And hopefully it won’t fluctuate too much.”