“And of course they all blame the town and I said, 'I'm sorry that the governor has put the brakes on, we just have to enforce them.'"
“I gotta tell you, in general, the whole year's been a crunch time for the businesses, for the homeowners, and for the town itself. The majority of our homeowners rent their houses during the summer. And, initially, they weren't allowed to rent their houses because of the COVID virus, because of COVID restrictions. And of course they all blame the town and I said, 'I'm sorry that the governor has put the brakes on, we just have to enforce them.'
And then of course the businesses only make their money during a very short period of the year, from the very end of April through when it starts getting cold. So, you know, they all blame the town for enforcing the COVID restrictions. Number one, it has to be done. And number two, if the governor orders it, we're going to follow the governor’s order. Yeah, that simple.
The town itself is in a financial bind because we don't have a property tax. We were worried we were going to get very little accommodation taxes. If you rent your house and you get $1,000, you add on 3% to the person who's renting your house and that’s passed through to the town. That really helps us survive. Of course, we were afraid we weren't going to get much of anything and it has been lower than last year, but what helped us is that towards the end of summer people stayed on. So we kind of lucked out like that.
And parking fees initially were way down because people weren’t coming to town and they weren’t parking their cars. If we don't get money for the parking meters, we don't have money to spend.
We were initially worried that we were going to be short anywhere from $750,000 to a million and a half. When you only have a little over a $3 million budget, and maybe having to cut it in half, you're thinking, ‘Oh my god, what are we going to do.’ We cut back on all sorts of expenses, but I I said to the commissioners and the commissioners agreed that we would not lay off any personnel. We would do whatever we had to do, but we weren't going to lay off personnel because they're our lifeblood. We're in the process of hiring a town manager and we haven't hired one yet, so we're saving that salary, and all the commissioners are volunteers. And so we're saving quite a bit of money, we're being very careful.
Our latest educated guess is that we might be about $200,000 short. So we're still being very careful. But again, $200,000 out of a $3 million budget is a lot of money for us. We think that with the extra bit of parking we had during the end of the summer, and with tightening our expenditures, we're going to make it. We hope.
I worry this is going to go into next year. Matter of fact, I'm almost positive in my mind. The town needs to plan for a tight budget for next year. If more people get infected with coronavirus during the winter, which they're predicting for every state, everywhere, then we could have problems again with the accommodation tax at the beginning of the year. And I think, unless we get a vaccine, we're gonna have a problem again next year." -- Dale Cooke, Mayor of Dewey Beach, #Delaware