New Castle County to reassess property under terms of settlement

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New Castle County has reached a settlement that will lead to reassessment of property.

A group of organizations, including the ACLU and NAACP, had successfully filed suit in Chancery Court claiming the lack of reassessments of property violated the state constitution when it comes to equal opportunity in education.

Chancery Court had ordered negotiations on an agreement, with the next option being a trial, with the county facing low odds in prevailing.

Talks on a settlement had stalled earlier.

The ACLU issued the following: “We, along with Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.,Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP,Delaware NAACP and Delawareans for Educational Opportunity, are excited to announce an historic resolution with New Castle County Governmentin the county track of our public schools litigation.NCC promises to complete tax property reassessment by fiscal year 2024. This is a critical step in combatting education disparities and property value disparities. Because no child’s education should be determined by their zip code.

New Castle County has not reassessed property in decades. Reassessments are revenue neutral and aim to raise taxes on a third of all properties, lowest taxes on another third and leave the remainder unchanged.

Under the agreement, Chancery Court continues to have supervision over the reassessment process. The county agreed not to pursue piecemeal litigation over reassessment of property.

Still to be resolved will be similar cases involving the state’s other two counties, Kent and Sussex. Sussex has among the lowest property taxes in the region.

Chancery Court also asked the General Assembly to change the current school funding formula. The formula, which has been abandoned by many stares, bases state aid on a per student basis, regardless of the income levels of a school district.

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