Sussex County adopts $185.8M budget for 2020 fiscal year
The Sussex County Council, following a public hearing Tuesday, June 18, voted unanimously to approve the proposed $185.8 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year that begins 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,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “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 major highlights in the adopted budget, the plan includes increased funding for the County to maintain its contract with the State of Delaware for supplemental police troopers assigned to Sussex County, as well as added funding for local law-enforcement operations; and $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.
The budget also includes $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, like those before it, 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 local services including paramedics and 911 dispatchers, public wastewater, building inspection and libraries, among other services.
While next year’s adopted budget keeps current property tax rates, building permit fees and wastewater service rates the same, there are slight increases in Register of Wills fees, private road plan review and inspection fees, and new sewer assessment rates in the Dewey Beach 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.
“The public depends on this budget to meet their everyday needs, whether they know it or not. It pays for police, paramedics, 911 operators, wastewater technicians, and other public servants who work to ensure the public’s health and safety every day,” Vincent said. “I’m proud that, through a lot of hard work from many people, including our financial team, the County is able to honor that responsibility in an efficient and cost-effective way.”
Copies of the 2020 budget, as well as the accompanying budget presentation, can be downloaded from the County’s website at www.sussexcountyde.gov/county-budget.