Sussex County Council ...
Property Tax Data
Could be on Internet
By ERIC MAGILL
SC Online Publisher
GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council unanimously approved a conditional use application from the Cape Henlopen School District to build a new middle school on a 30-acre parcel on Route 24.
The proposal had been somewhat controversial because the school would not be built in a development district as defined by the county's Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
But in voting yes, Council member Vance Phillips said he believed the development district map in the CLUP should have included the parcel the school intends to build on.
"It (school's construction) could foreshadow future actions of this council," said Phillips in reference to the possibility of more development in that area.
Council member George Cole said he didn't believe the development district should have any bearing on the project because the land use plan indicates that schools are infrastructure like roads and can be built where they are needed.
Most of the discussion Tuesday centered on the fencing of the property.
The county's Planning & Zoning Commission recommended in a unanimous vote that 5-foot high chain link fencing be required around the entire 30-acre property.
Council decided, however, to reduce that to require fencing only around the ball fields and from the eastern property line of County Road 284 to the western property line of CR 284.
Other conditions imposed by council are:
Tax Data on the 'Net
- Lighting to be directed inward to negate impact on traffic and neighboring properties;
- A landscaped buffer will be planted along all adjoining residential lots;
- The project will be subject to a final site plan and review by the Planning & Zoning Commission;
- The Cape Henlopen School District will execute a memorandum of understanding for sanitary sewer service with the county;
- The project must meet all Delaware Department of Transportation requirements;
- The state's Historic Planning division must be given access to the site to determine the location of the Fisher House;
- All local, county and state permits must be obtained before construction begins.
Council heard a proposal from the county data processing and information systems departments to provide property tax information on the Internet.
According to Eddie Sparpaglione of the IS department, the county would provide "limited" property tax information for free on the Internet.
County Finance Director David Baker told council that a committee formed to investigate the service determined it would:
- Save county staff 20 man-hours a month in answering property tax questions from the public, real estate agents, title searchers and appraisers;
- Would decrease traffic in the county administration building since it would no longer be necessary to go to the administration building to obtain property tax information;
- Would provide better service to constituents.
The committee proposed spending $14,000 on the project including the hiring of a computer security consultant to ensure that the county's sensitive data is protected from hackers and for the necessary software.
Baker said numerous disclaimers would also be added to the site so that the county couldn't be held liable for any incorrect data.
Sparpaglione said the type of data to be put on the property tax site had not yet been determined. He said some data would be free but that the county could charge a subscription for access to more detailed data.
He said that although states like Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina already provide property tax data online, Sussex County would be the first county to do so in Delaware.
Human Services Grants
Council approved $107,500 in Human Services Grants out of $342,927 that had been requested.
County Administrator Robert L. Stickels said the amount awarded was about $9,000 less than the $116,000 that has been budgeted for human services grants this year and that the remaining $9,000 could be awarded as the year goes on.
Stickels said the county received 102 requests from county organizations and agreed to give money to 88 of those organizations.
Some of the requests that were denied included the American Red Cross, the First State Community Action Center and the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church.
Stickels said the Red Cross and First State Community Action Center have already received $10,000 from the county and that the county couldn't justify the $49,000 in requests from the church.
Greenwood resident Dan Kramer objected to the grants, saying council is giving away taxpayers' money to charitable organizations that taxpayers may not want their money to go to.
He said the grants program should be scrapped.
In Other Business ...
- County offices will be closed on Monday, Nov. 12, for state inspections. They will reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
- Council heard the introduction of an ordinance to refinance $11.2 million in general obligation bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates than were available when the bonds were first issued in 1993. The ordinance would authorize up to $11.6 million in new bonds to refinance the existing bonds. County Finance Director David Baker told council that the refinancing would save approximately $300,000 and would benefit sewer and water customers. Baker said the refinancing would likely drop the existing interest rates of 5 to 5.5 percent to 2 to 3 percent.
- Council proclaimed Nov. 3, 2001, as Linda K. Jones Day in honor of Delmar's 2001 Citizen of the Year. Jones has served as assistant vice president and branch sales manager for Wilmington Trust in Delmar for 19 years and has been a member of the Greater Delmar Chamber of Commerce for 15 years. Jones is also a member of the Delmar Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary.
- In keeping with the State of Delaware's new slogan, Councilman Vance Phillips proposed that the county conduct a contest to develop a new slogan to replace the county's 20-year-old "Sussex County Means Business" slogan. Phillips recommended a $100 award for the winner. Council asked Phillips and County Finance Director David Baker to establish the criteria for the contest.
- County Administrator Robert L. Stickels told council that county seniors have received $2.2 million in school tax credits under the state's Senior Tax Credit program.
- Stickels announced that the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center has become one of only 50 EOCs in the nation to be cited as a Center of Excellence by the National Academy of Emergency Dispatchers. Stickels said it is the highest honor awarded by the academy. "It says a lot about our employees," he said.
- Stickels reminded council that a referendum on the proposed Miller Creek Sanitary Sewer District will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2001.
- Stickels said the county's annual Caroling on The Circle and food drive will be held on The Circle on Monday, Dec. 3, 2001, at 6:30 p.m.
- Stickels advised council that former county employee Ruth Timmons recently died. Timmons worked in Data Processing from 1972 to 1986.
- Council approved the following grant requests:
- $250 to the Inter-Group Council of Sussex County for symposium expenses;
- $200 to the First State Community Action Agency for program expenses;
- $500 to Rehoboth Beach Main Street Inc. for its annual community dinner;
- $500 to the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Orchard/Riverdale for its Buy-A-Brick fundraiser ;
- $50 to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for its Captured for Kids fundraiser;
- $375 to the American Legion for an advertisement in the organization's Country Show fundraiser for ambulance service;
- $401 to the Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival for flags for the festival's Salute to America Ceremony;
- $100 to the United Deliverance Bible Center for its Community Thanksgiving Dinner
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