Salisbury Council to Tackle Enterprise Zones, Give Fire Grant Another Try

SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury City Council will meet at 6 PM this evening and vote to renew their enterprise zone for another 10 years.  At the end of tonight’s agenda, the council will also decide whether or not to accept a $1.4 million federal grant for the Salisbury Fire Department.  In most jurisdictions neither measure would be controversial, but this is Salisbury.

Even Democrats aren’t opposed to enterprise zones anymore.  Enterprise zones provide tax credits for companies that place businesses in depressed areas.  Unfortunately, Salisbury has drawn its enterprise zone to include the choice US 13 and US 50 corridors.  Because of this, businesses such as Walgreens and the Residence Inn have been able to take tax credits for investing in areas that they would have invested in anyhow.

Two weeks ago the council refused to place the grant acceptance on the agenda.  Tonight they will vote on whether to accept $1.4 million to hire additional fire fighters.  Again, in most places this would be a no-brainer and on the consent agenda.  The fire department says it can use the additional fire fighters.  The federal government will pick up the cost for two years.  What’s the problem?

As always, the devil is in the details and Salisbury’s council majority always looks at the details.  This matter would probably have been settled, but Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton doesn’t like details and doesn’t like to answer questions.  Instead he prefers press conferences where he can attack said council majority without giving them a chance to respond.

Questions that need to answered include:

  • How does the mayor plan to pay for the new firefighters after the grant runs out?  Is he planning on laying them off or is he going to propose an increase in the property tax rate (of 3 – 4 cents)?
  • The Mayor, the fire department, the Daily Times, and the chattering classes have all claimed that Salisbury needs these additional fire fighters.  Why has the administration failed to request them?  Why has the fire department refused to ask for them in their annual departmental budget request?
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