Sussex County Council, after a public hearing June 13, voted 4-0 to approve the proposed $143 million budget for fiscal 2018 that begins July 1.
By law, Sussex County must adopt a balanced budget by June 30 each year.
The proposed budget keeps day-to-day operational expenses in check, limits fee increases, and holds the line on county property taxes — familiar budget themes in Sussex County over the years. The adopted spending plan, though, invests significant new dollars pulled from cash reserves to maintain or expand critical services and infrastructure, including police, paramedics, upgraded wastewater systems and to launch a pilot program to expand broadband Internet service in more rural parts of the county.
The plan includes increased funding for the county to maintain its contract with the state of Delaware for additional state police troopers to be assigned to Sussex County, as well as funding to increase around-the-clock paramedic coverage in the Seaford/Blades area; $1 million in startup funding to begin a pilot project to install fiber optic cabling to expand high-speed internet to rural parts of the county; and more than $8 million in capital funding to begin phased, major upgrades at the county’s South Coastal, Inland Bays and Wolfe Neck regional wastewater facilities to as much as double treatment capacity.
The budget 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, in turn, funds local services, including life-saving paramedics and 911 dispatchers, environmentally beneficial public wastewater, critical building inspection and culturally enriching libraries, among other services.
The plan includes no change in current property tax rates, sewer and water service charges or building permit fees; however, increases are proposed for one-time sewer connections, plan review and various Marriage Bureau fees.
Copies of the fiscal 2018 budget and the accompanying budget presentation are available at sussexcountyde.gov/county-budget.