New Castle County has not reassessed its property values for more than 30 years.
The County is among those being sued by education advocates who argue the outdated assessment harms school funding that relies in part on property taxes. The City of Wilmington is attempting to join the suit that could force reassessment.
Several New Castle County Council members introduced an ordinance Tuesday that would create a reserve to pay for a property reassessment if it were to happen.
Councilman George Smiley, the legislation’s primary sponsor, says initial funding for the account would come from a controversial $3 million loan to be paid back to the County by the Delaware Board of Trade, “not touching this budget or the next budget.”
He adds that interest on the loan will come to roughly $150,000.
“[The combined amount] is far from what we need but it’s a beginning. If at least we can get the fund started, then we can start looking,” said Smiley.
Smiley’s legislation says a reassessment will likely cost over $26 million.
It argues the outdated assessment has led to a decreased tax base, hardships on school districts and local governments and inequities in property tax burdens. “It really all just comes down to fairness,” said Smiley.
Smiley says he hopes to develop partnerships between the state, the county and municipalities to accomplish a reassessment.
The ordinance is set to be voted on at the next County Council meeting.