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Kent County to perform full property tax reassessment as part of legal settlement

Delaware Public Media

Kent County agreed to perform a countywide property reassessment. 

Chancery Court approved the settlement between Kent County and the plaintiffs NAACP Delaware Conference of Branches and Delawareans for Educational Opportunity Wednesday.

The agreement requires the county to reassess all property in time for tax bills issued in 2024. It’ll be the first reassessment the county has performed since 1987. 

It’s the latest development in the lawsuit seeking equity in Delaware’s education system. Chancery Court ruled last year the property tax systems in all three Delaware counties are unconstitutional.

ACLU of Delaware helped represent the plaintiffs.  It’s Legal and Policy Director Karen Lantz says the stagnant property values hinder funding to schools. 

“Their tax base doesn’t grow over time the way that it would, sort of, naturally if property values were being updated regularly,” said Lantz. “So there’s no increase of revenue for the school to keep up even just with inflation and student growth.” 

Lantz adds the settlement will help reduce the need for regular school district tax referendums, and help update metrics the state uses to equally fund school districts.      

The News Joural reports the estimated cost of reassessment in Kent County is between $5 million and $6 million. 

New Castle County agreed to a similar settlement weeks ago. Sussex County is still scheduled to go to trial on this issue at the end of the March if it does not settle. 

The state settled its portion of the lawsuit last fall promising to update the way it funds schools and Gov. Carney’s proposed 2022 budget includes funding reflecting those promises.

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