Sussex County Council OKs 2019 budget with no property tax hike

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Sussex County’s has approved a fiscal 2019 budget with no property tax increase.

Sussex County Council voted unanimously to approve the proposed $185.8 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The adopted budget keeps County property taxes unchanged for another year, but does utilize increased revenue and cash reserves as the county works to keep pace with demand for services and infrastructure, including police, paramedics, wastewater, and libraries, as well as continued expansion of broadband Internet service in pockets of the county.

“This budget continues the long-standing philosophy of giving Sussex County property owners the best value for their investment,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “It recognizes the growth and change in our community and how we can best meet the public’s needs in the years ahead, but it does so in a way that is balanced and affordable to our customers.”

The budget includes increased funding for the county to maintain its contract with the State of Delaware for supplemental troopers assigned to Sussex County, as well as added funding for local law enforcement operations; $1 million to cover design costs of an expanded public safety complex that would house the Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Medical Services offices and training facilities; $2 million to continue efforts to expand broadband service throughout the county; a $1 million set-aside for farmland preservation; and nearly $35 million in capital funding to pay for various sewer improvements and expansion projects to fulfill the County’s 20-year forecasted demand.

The budget, like those before it, is supported by a mix of income streams, including property taxes, realty transfer taxes, sewer service fees, building permit fees and document recording fees.

That revenue funds local services, including paramedics and 911 dispatchers, public wastewater, building inspection, and libraries, among other services.

While next year’s adopted budget keeps current property tax rates, building permit fees, and wastewater service rates the same, there are slight increases in Register of Wills fees, private road plan review and inspection fees, and new sewer assessment rates in the Dewey and Henlopen Acres service areas.

Copies of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, as well as the accompanying budget presentation, can be downloaded from the County’s website at www.sussexcountyde.gov/county-budget.

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