Proposed to Council
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 ...
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