Dover Nonprofits & City Leaders Meet Over "Public Safety Fee" - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Nonprofits & City Leaders Meet Over "Public Safety Fee"

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 1:49 AM Updated:
Dover City Hall Dover City Hall

DOVER, Del.- Dover nonprofit leaders and city leaders on Thursday met to discuss a proposed public safety fee that would be charged to tax-exempt organizations.

The proposal, which was introduced by members of city council, would charge nonprofits a rate like 1 or 2 cents per exterior square footage --- a move aimed at offsetting lost revenue from the roughly 45 percent of property in the city that is tax-exempt. The amount of money charged to each organization could vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Mayor Robin Christiansen said Thursday's meeting was constructive and allowed city leaders to lay out their situation to many of the groups that own tax-exempt properties.

For instance, Christiansen said Doer has deferred replacing or conducting critical maintenance on a number of police and fire vehicles or paying for other capital expenditures for those agencies.

"We have a number of cars that need to be taken off the road because they are borderline safe and we want the officers who protect our lives to be safe," he said.

However, some nonprofit leaders argue the city should try to deal with its public safety costs through other means before amounting what they describe as a tax on their groups.

Jeanine Kleimo with Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing said the group will be able to afford the public safety fee, but the money will come directly out of funds intended to help the homeless or needy.

"This would come out of programs and often essential services that we provide because the public agencies don't provide it," she said.

Wesley College President Robert Clark said there are legal questions about whether the city can levy the fee. He said he believes a discussion can be had about the city's public safety expenditures, but the current proposal does not reflect the good nonprofits do in the city.

"The economic impact for nonprofits in the area would be large," he said. "If you look at what we pay in electric and water, it's quite large."

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