Delaware Public Media

Wilmington and New Castle County spar over property tax reassessment

Jan 24, 2019

The City of Wilmington hopes to join a lawsuit seeking to force New Castle County to reassess property tax values countywide for the first time in over three decades.

 


The City of Wilmington has asked to join an education lawsuit against New Castle County government and other officials filed last year by the Community Legal Aid Society and the ACLU of Delaware. But the City’s primary concern is not schools— it’s tax revenue.

The City argues the County’s failure to do a general property tax reassessment for 36 years has had an “irreparable” impact on City revenue.

According to a City statement, recent tax assessment appeals of a few commercial properties in Wilmington have resulted in the loss of more than $1.2 million to the City’s annual property tax revenue.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer responded to the City’s announcement this week with a statement that the city has the power under state law to reassess property on its own.

Meyer later said the County is working on finding a solution. “Reassessment is a hard thing to do, that’s why it hasn’t been done for 35 plus years. Since I came into office we’ve been looking at how to do it at the County. It’s expensive. It has serious tax consequences. And we’re trying to do it in a way that minimizes the tax burden to all county residents.”

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki says it’s not worth it for the city to reassess its own property.

“We could reassess for our tax, but our tax is only one half of the property tax that city residents pay. State law requires that the schools use the county reassessment. So it’s just wrong to suggest that we can do it ourselves,” he said.

Purzycki adds he’s confident the city will not have to do its own reassessment. “I have no doubt that the courts are going to deal with this,” he said.