Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

Library Capitation Tax
Proposed to Council

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council member George Cole asked the council to consider using revenues from the county's capitation tax to help fund the county's libraries at council's regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct 15, 2002.

A similar idea was also proposed in June by representatives of the libraries, but no action was taken.

Coles said using the capitation, or head tax, would provide a more steady source of money than a property tax. "Population doesn't fluctuate with the economy," he said.

The $3 tax is charged to every full-time resident of the county over the age of 18, but county Finance Director David Baker said it is somewhat difficult to collect. "We have a lot of trouble tracing people," Baker said.

And County Administrator Robert Stickels said that it is impractical to go after those who don't pay it because "we have nothing to lien," and it doesn't make sense to take action in court to collect a $3 tax. Baker said about 75 percent of those who are assessed with the capitation tax actually pay it, but that there are many residents the county simply hasn't found to send bills to.

Since 1995, the county's mobile home placement tax has been used to fund libraries; this year $3 million from the placement tax was budgeted for libraries, according to Stickels.

Cole said he thought shifting the capitation tax funds to libraries would be "just kind of a catch up thing" to make up for "years and years" of underfunding the libraries. The capitation tax should bring in nearly $200,000 next year, Baker said.

Other council members, however, didn't think the added funding is necessary. "I think they've got a very strong stream of funds," council member Dale Dukes, D-Laurel, said. Dukes added he fears that if the county earmarks the capitation tax funds for libraries, "it's something we'll never get back."

Herring Creek resident Till Purnell urged the council to consider the move. "This is not a frittering away of money in any way, shape or form," Purnell said.

While the capitation tax move would not involve any new tax, Purnell said she wouldn't be opposed to that, either.

"I don't think Sussex County has to be the cheapest place in the country to live," she said.

But Cole wouldn't go that far. "I don't think any of us want to create a new tax," he said.

The council decided to table the idea until after the upcoming election.

In Other Business ...
  • The council voted to reappoint Art Marvel to the Building Code Board of Appeals;

  • Council introduced an ordinance authorizing the refinancing of $31 million in general obligation bonds at a lower interest rate to benefit county sewer districts;

  • Approved the annexation of property belonging to Gregory Biener to the Long Neck sanitary sewer system;

  • Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
    • Conditional Use No. 1477 for public water in a MR/RPC district on 4.10 acres in Baltimore Hundred, the application Carl M. Freeman Communities;

    • Conditional Use No. 1478 in an AR-1 district for an electrical contracting business on 3.08 acres in Georgetown Hundred, the application of Eric and Laura Jones;

    • Change of Zone No. 1485 from AR-1 to C1 on 8.387 acres in Baltimore Hundred, the application of Pierce Hardy Limited Partnership;

    • Change of Zone No. 1486 from AR-1 to C-1 on 1.83 acres in Indian River Hundred, the application of David Ritter;

    • Change of Zone No. 1487 from AR-1 to MR/RPC on 138.78 acres in Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred, the application of Caldera Properties;

    • Change of Zone No. 1488 from AR-1 to MR/RPC on 38.63 acres in Baltimore Hundred, the application of Penny Lane Development L.L.C.;

    • Change of Zone 1489 from AR-1 to MR/RPC on 25.09 acres in Baltimore Hundred, the application of East Bay Homes L.L.C.
  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Laurel Lions -- $400 for Wilmer Eye Institute;br>
    • Selbyville Lions -- $300 for community projects;

    • Delaware Technical and Community College -- $100 for baseball/softball marathon; and

    • Coasters Inc. -- $250 for cheerleading uniforms, equipment and travel expenses, Mid-Coast Gymnastics.

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