The DE Turf-hotel tax saga continues

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Good afternoon,

The De Turf hotel tax saga has taken another turn.

The News Journal (subscription) reported that Jacqueline Mette, sister of legislator Trey Paradee and lawyer John Paradee, serves on the legal staff of Gov. John Carney.

It is not known if Mette was involved in the due diligence of the bill that gives Kent County the option on passing an up to three percent room tax that would go to the DE Turf, a nonprofit complex of outdoor athletic fields that comes with a hefty debt load.

Carney’s office offered the following statement:

“We don’t comment on details about the Governor’s deliberative process. The Governor has confidence in his legal team and their ability to give him straightforward advice.”

Carney signed the bill, a derivation from previous legislation that gives counties and municipalities the power to levy a property tax. Other bills would send room tax proceeds directly to the municipality or county.

So far, Kent County Levy Court has not taken any action on the DE Turf tax.

If social media comments are any indication, the response to the tax has been largely unfavorable for a variety of reasons that include the lack of public access to playing fields in a county without a sizable park system as well as the questionable wisdom of sending tax money directly to DE Turf.

John Paradee has been linked to a proposed development near DE Turf and serves on the board of the organization. The complex was made possible by an interchange that was built south of Dover. State Sen. Trey Paradee helped push the measure through the General Assembly.

The ability to bring developments, like the one linked to John Paradee to that area of Kent County was used in justifying the construction of the interchange in an area dominated by farm fields.

To the casual observer, it does not look good.

The bottom line is that the Delaware General Assembly should stop passing revenue-based legislation at the end of the session and undertake an open and structured process that includes testimony from all stakeholders as well as a close look at DE Turf’s finances.

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