Sussex County Council, after a public hearing June 18, voted unanimously to approve the proposed $185.8 million budget for fiscal 2020 that will begin July 1.
By law, Sussex County must adopt a balanced budget by June 30 each year.
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 to hard-to-reach pockets of the county.
“This budget continues the long-standing philosophy of giving Sussex County property owners the best value for their investment,” said County Administrator Todd F. Lawson. “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.”
Among some of the highlights in the adopted budget, the plan includes increased funding for the county to maintain its contract with 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 is supported by a mix of income streams, including property taxes, realty transfer taxes, sewer service fees, building permit fees and document recording fees, among others. That revenue, in turn, funds a wealth of local services, including paramedics and 911 dispatchers, environmentally beneficial public wastewater, critical building inspection and libraries, among other services.
While 2020’s adopted budget keeps current property tax rates, building permit fees and wastewater service rates the same, there are 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.
Council President Michael H. Vincent said the adopted budget represents the county’s continued commitment to protecting the public, safeguarding the environment, expanding economic development opportunities and ensuring a high quality of life.
Copies of the fiscal 2020 budget, as well as the accompanying budget presentation, are available at sussexcountyde.gov/county-budget.