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Sussex County offers bigger budget for 2022

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Milton Pratt
/
Delaware Public Media

Sussex County’s Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget proposal is over $100-million more than this year’s budget.

 

The proposed budget introduced this week is $278 million.  The spending increase over this year is driven by increased capital construction and federal money from the American Rescue Plan.

The county is adding more than $41 million into wastewater infrastructure including new sewer mains, increased treatment capacity, and other upgrades to the county’s utility systems.

Over six million dollars is set aside for construction of a consolidated public safety complex that would expand the Emergency Operation Center to accommodate the county’s Emergency Medical Services administrative offices and training facilities.

There are some increases in fees.  Sewer is rising $4 annually and water $15 annually.

County Chief Financial Officer Gina Jennings explains the water increase.

"Water is seeing an increase. They're going to see an increase through 2026. Our rates with the city of Rehoboth have gone up where it's increasing," said Jennings. "We only have 2,000 customers when you get a $300,000 increase. It's tough to spread that out over the users, so they do have savings. The water district has savings, so we're using that savings so that we can bring that rate up slowly so we don't hit them all at one time with an $80 increase."

But Jennings notes there are no tax increases, with reserves and realty transfer taxes (RTT) revenue helping cover the higher spending,

"No increase in taxes, We are using reserves which are savings in the general fund. These are prior year commitments that the general fund has made of $32.2 million and then $28.1 million in RTT reserves for capital projects as well. That's how we support our capital projects," said Jennings. "We don't have any debt to support those, we use RTT savings."

Jennings notes $2.5 million has been set aside from reserves to pay for the initial stages of a court-ordered countywide property reassessment.

The budget includes more money for the County’s contract with the state for 22 supplemental state police troopers assigned to Sussex County, $4.4 million to preserve open space and farmland, and $2 million to continue efforts to expand broadband internet in rural areas.

Sussex County Council votes on the budget on June 22.

Meanwhile, New Castle County Council unanimously passed its Fiscal Year 2022 budget this week with no property tax increases. 

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.