Vincent reports that Phillips is improving from plane incident

Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent reported Tuesday that he had spoken with Councilman Vance Phillips.

Phillips was involved in a solo plane incident where he reportedly had a very rough landing in an experimental hang glide-like aircraft on Sunday near Lynchburg, Va. Vincent reported that Phillips was “thankful for all the prayers and emails ... he’s a little better,” said Vincent, “he’s still got a ways to go with rehab and things, but he is doing better.” Later in the meeting it was reported that Phillips’ condition had been upgraded from serious to fair.

The council voted to implement a policy changing the Presidents Day and Columbus Day holidays. Instead, county offices will be open and employees will have two floating holidays.

It doesn’t change the numbers of holidays for county employees, rather it just makes county offices more accessible and aligned with the state schedule, explained County Administrator David Baker. County offices will be open and managers of departments will be responsible for ensuring enough coverage within their respective departments.

The county also discussed and introduced a draft ordinance amending the code allowing a landowner to “perform site work or construct certain improvements without posting a bond or performance guaranty.”

It was introduced after a developer brought it to the council’s attention that obtaining bonds was more difficult as a result of banking industry changes, explained Baker. Properties would be flagged so no building permits would be issued and no transfer of property title would happen until all improvements were complete.

When asked his opinion, County Engineer Mike Izzo expressed concern and asked if there couldn’t be some type of hardship provision.

“No developer is going to bond anything and trying to track them will be difficult,” said Izzo. “It would be much more favorable to still have the bond but maybe have some type of hardship have it be more of an exception than an everyday rule.”

The council decided that it would be introduced but Lank and Izzo could go over the ordinance in more detail before bringing it back to council to address concerns.

The council also heard from three people via letter on redistricting, supporting a plan proposed by the League of Woman Voters, as they had extended the public hearing period on the county’s proposed redistricting plan. County Attorney Everett Moore said that in looking at district lines they used road names, and asked if they could wait to vote on it.

“Ten years ago we didn’t have names, we had numbers, so we’d like to make it consistent and bring it back in that fashion,” he said.

In legislative news, Deputy County Administrator Hal Godwin reported to council that they were seeking to strike a portion of state legislation pertaining to property assessment. The portion they are hoping to strike has to do with new standards recently adopted by the Council of Real Estate Apprasiers, which according to Godwin, would “cause the county legal problems,” and require the county to assess property at market value.

“Market value and tax assessment are different,” said Godwin, explaining that the county uses 1974 construction costs as a tool for property tax value assessment currently.

The portion he is wishing to get stricken states that the “Council on Real Estate Appraisers shall develop standards in cooperation with the Delaware Association of Counties and the Executive Director of the League of Local Governments or his or her designee for licensing and training of assessors in order for municipal and county assessment departments to be in compliance within [three] years of the development and adoption of said standards.”

In other news, the council accepted a bid from Bearing Construction, Inc. out of Sudlersville, Md., for the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility Pump Station improvements.

The bid came in under what was expected for a total of $3,499,460. Mike Izzo explained that the station, which is close to capacity, currently serves about 7,000 homes in the Fenwick Island, Route 54, Americana Bayside and Johnson’s Corner sewer area, and the improvements will raise that to about 17,000 homes.