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Sussex County presents proposed FY 2023 budget

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Sussex County’s 2023 budget plan proposes spending in the range of $300 million.

The $294.1 million proposed budget is up more than $16 million over last year’s spending plan.

There are no increases in property tax rates, but there will be fee increases including $24 more annually for sewer and $35 annually for water for public utility customers.

The proposed budget also includes $72.2 million for wastewater infrastructure including new sewer mains, increased treatment capacity, and other upgrades to utility systems in the county.

County Finance Director Gina Jennings says the county made some adjustments because of inflation.

"We're not taking on large initiatives this year,” said Jennings. “We did have an opportunity to purchase new software things like that but we've had to hold off to make sure that we can cover the current cost with the inflation. So we do have employment costs, repair maintenance contracts are going up, the reassessment project - this is going to be our first full entire year of the reassessment project so that increases."

Jennings notes the county is seeing increases in insurance costs, as well as utilities and of course fuel.

"Unfortunately the increase is being driven by inflation with the cost driver being fuel, insurance, equipment, utilities, and supplies, and as a result of these monumental increases we had to make the fiscally prudent decision to exclude new initiatives and limit purchases to constrain the counties already expanding budget," said County Administrator Todd Lawson.

While there are no property tax rate increases, there are multiple fee increases including $24 annually for sewer and $35 annually for water for public utility customers.

The proposed budget also has new or adjusted fees for some land use services like zoning changes, commercial site plan review, subdivision, and variance requests.

The budget plan also includes funding for 16 new positions to meet demand in various offices. The bulk of those are additional paramedics and 9-1-1 dispatchers.

There’s also an increase of funding for the contract with the state for 22 supplemental state police troopers and the possibility of an additional officer assigned to Sussex County.

County Council will hold a public hearing on the budget on June 21.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.