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Sussex County Council approves redistricting map and extra funds for open space, other programs

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

Sussex County Council unanimously approved a new redistricting map.

Council adopted the map making new districts that will be in place through 2031. This is in response to the most recent U.S. Census showing significant population growth and shifts.

The county’s population increased by more than 20 percent or 40,000 residents between 2010 and 2020. It now sits at 237,378 residents.

The setup for the county has Districts 1 through 4 forming a ring for the most part with District 5 in the center.

All five current council members will keep their seats, and the map will not force any of them to run against another in this year’s election.

County Attorney Everett Moore led the development of the new map, and said looking at school districts was a factor during the process.

"Because many of the municipalities and towns relate very strongly to their school districts or school mascots so as much as possible we tried to look at those lines for communities of interest. Unfortunately, the geography is such especially in the eastern districts. The eastern districts are so large that it was impossible to exactly follow the lines," said Moore.

Other factors included current and historical trends, geographic features, and a desire to keep together communities of interest.

Meanwhile, Sussex County Council also approved using more than $12-million dollars of unanticipated revenue for open space and revenue sharing programs.

The money comes from additional realty transfer tax revenue field by better than expected property sale numbers over the last eight months

County Finance Director Gina Jennings explains over half of the dollars will go to counties and towns.

"6,444,000 would go to the counties and towns in Sussex County, and the grant amounts were a $100,000 minimum up to a $500,000 maximum,” said Jennings. “The funding can be used for anything rtt related which would be public safety services, economic development programs, public works, infrastructure, and capital projects."

Jennings adds there’s no match requirement for the municipalities for the first $100,000. Towns have until the end of May to apply.

She adds nearly $5.6 million will be set aside for land acquisitions by the county for open space.

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.