Letter: Rehoboth’s homeowners, beware of deal with Sussex
December 21, 2018
I am writing to urge Rehoboth’s homeowners to come to the town hall event Friday, Jan. 5, to oppose the mayor’s proposed deal with Sussex County about the sewer treatment plant.
This proposal should be rejected for so many reasons:
1) The current users of Rehoboth’s treatment plant will continue to pay the entire cost of the more than $42 million debt for the ocean outfall project, but the county will get free and uncontrolled use of the ocean outfall pipe for its overdevelopment on Route 1.
2) By giving the county ownership and control of the outfall pipe, they get to use the excess capacity of the pipe that we are paying for, without any compensation to us. The mayor is asking Rehoboth to give away that opportunity to sell the excess capacity for revenue. That revenue could be used to reduce the debt borne by Rehoboth homeowners, but this proposal is a financial windfall to Sussex County.
3) Although the county would assume the costs of Phase 3 and 4 upgrades to the sewer treatment plant, who knows if they will go forward with those costs. The county retains the right to simply let the plant phase out.
4) Even if they do go ahead with Phase 3 and Phase 4 upgrades, the savings to Rehoboth homeowners will be dwarfed by the additional costs we will see in the future. This is because, just as ratepayers across the county share in the costs of those upgrades to our plant, we will have to pay a share of all future upgrades and expansions across Sussex County. Rehoboth is fully built-out, we won’t be making a lot more upgrades, but we will be paying a share of future development up Route 1 and all over Sussex.
5) Rehoboth’s homeowners - people who use their homes - will have to pay higher fees and surcharges under this plan, and we will be subsidizing the wasteful overuse by businesses and large vacation rental properties that will pay proportionately less. Sussex will abandon the metered billing system that we currently have, so those businesses and large rental houses which use excessive amounts of water will pay the same flat-rate calculations as small families and part-time residents.
6) We will lose control over the operations of the plant, thus our quality of life in Rehoboth will change regarding service and future annual cost. When the county wants to increase rates, we’ll have to pay. When they want to dig up Henlopen Avenue and Deauville Beach, we’ll have to let them do it.
Be forewarned that this proposal to give away the treatment plant is the first step in the dismantling of core parts of our city government, which Mayor Kuhns and some of the commissioners have been working on. They also are talking about outsourcing trash collection, and next it may be the parking department, the water department, the streets and public works, then maybe the lifeguards, then the police department. Rehoboth homeowners should be forewarned of major changes affecting their quality of life.
Everyone who worked so hard to see Rehoboth Beach become the city it is today will see all their efforts be given away for nothing. This will surely result in the quality of life in our city go downwards. We will all see a major drop in our property values. Understand that much of the commercial property in the city is owned by a small number of families, and these commercial landlords do not pay any rental tax, gross receipts tax or hotel room tax to the city. Rehoboth homeowners are subsidizing these business interests, while at the same time they are working to outsource and privatize our city government.
Elections do have consequences, and as Mayor Kuhns consolidates control on the Rehoboth Board of Commissioners, Rehoboth homeowners should prepare for a lot more crazy proposals to dismantle much of what we love about our wonderful city.
Please come to the town hall Jan. 5 and also reach out to all of the commissioners, asking them to vote against this destructive plan to giveaway Rehoboth’s valuable assets.