County officials report property taxes unchanged


Sussex County officials presented their proposed $117.7 million budget for the 2014 fiscal year on Tuesday. The proposed budget is down approximately 3 percent from this current year’s because of some reductions in sewer assessment rates.

However, what stands out most about this proposed budget is not what it contains, but rather what it does not. For the 24th consecutive year, there will be no increase in property taxes.

That is a remarkable achievement by the County to operate that many years without having to put the burden of generating revenue on the shoulders of homeowners. It is also a definite enticement in attempting to lure people to buying homes in Sussex County.

Close to the beach. Access to major roads going in every direction. Unchanged property taxes in more than two decades. All good draws for prospective homebuyers.

As for what is included in the proposed budget, County Administrator Todd Lawson said the County would be spending 79 percent of the budgeted $7,329,615 in grant aid monies toward public safety. He noted that the number of incidents dispatched to paramedics has increased by 37 percent in the last year, and that 911 calls have increased by 18 percent over the past decade.

So, basically, the County is not raising property taxes, yet again, and are targeting emergency services with increased funding. What’s not to like about this proposed budget?

We really can’t pick it apart this year.

“Time and time again, our financial staff has shown that, in the best of times or in the worst of times, government can and has to make do,” said County Council President Michael Vincent. “And we can do it without creating a burden on the backs of the people we serve.”

Yes, the council is patting itself on the back right now. But they should. This new proposed budget is good for those of us who live here, and good for possibly convincing others to make this home, or at least an attractive location for a second home.

We congratulate the financial wizards at Sussex County, and trust they will continue their exemplary work into the future.

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This is the unofficial start to the summer season around here, and we are as excited as we’ve ever been for summer.

Hurricane Sandy narrowly missed hitting us with all her force last fall, and the damage that was done has largely been cleaned up and repaired. There are hints of a recovering economy, and the Bethany Beach Bandstand and Freeman Stage at Bayside are both entering their busy seasons of providing great entertainment at the beach.

Enjoy your summer, and remember when you are stuck in traffic that it’s always worse somewhere else!