Sussex County Delaware

Council makes
major reduction
in debt load

Sussex County Council ...

Saves $3.9 million in interest

Special to Sussex County Online

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County taxpayers saved more than $3.9 million in interest on a long-term loan after the county paid off a mortgage on the new administration building 35 years early, county administrator Robert Stickels told county council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 1, 2000.

In its first meeting in two weeks, the council also accepted Chesapeake Utilities' request to withdraw its application to place propane tanks in the Ocean View area and listened to a request to petition the General Assembly to regulate the sanitary and health conditions in Delaware abortion clinics.

Stickels and David Baker, financial director for the county, told council on Tuesday that the early payoff was enabled by the sale of the old courthouse to the State of Delaware for $4.3 million and a $1 million grant from Wilmington Trust Company.

Lynn Rogers, president of the council, said the early payment would benefit all involved but especially future councils since they will not inherit large debts.

Just before shredding the mortgage, Stickels joked with the council and those attending the meeting that the shredding of the documents was a sign of the times in which smoke alarms prevented burning mortgages.

The USDA Rural Development Office, directed by John "Jack" Walls, issued a low interest loan to the county for the Sussex County Council's 1995 Building Expansion Program in Georgetown.

That program included purchasing the former Sussex Trust corporate offices along North Dupont Highway and an additional parking area, as well as the purchase of the old Georgetown Post Office, Stickels said.

The total cost of the project was $9.8 million. Walls received the check at Tuesday's council meeting.

"This is the another step the council is taking in making the county (non-sewer) debt free," Stickels said.

Chesapeake Utilities

In the Chesapeake Utilities matter, the company withdrew its application to place five 30,000 gallon capacity burmed propane tanks on a 3-acre lot located between Ocean View and South Bethany, according to Charles "Charlie" Russell, manager of pipe propane systems for Chesapeake Utilities. Burmed tanks are buried.

Area residents opposed the operation although the company exceeded state setbacks and safety requirements, according to Russell. He added, "We want to be good neighbors."

Russell said the site was the first one available that met all the necessary criteria. Other sites considered either were near or contained wetlands.

Russell said some of the benefits to the underground system would have been the elimination of truck traffic in some areas and lowering the risks that come with individual tanks.

Abortion Clinic Regulations

Finally, the council decided to examine state regulations on abortion clinics in Delaware at the request of Henry C. Meier of Lewes.

Meier said he and others from around the county are following the lead of a group in New Castle County.

"We are following a pattern of local government petitioning the General Assembly," Meier said. "Bring them a notch above barbershops. This is a surgical procedure."

Meier cited the following as his definition of minimum standards: mandatory risk counseling, minimum sanitary standards, a reporting system for women injured from drugs or surgery, and guaranteed followup examinations by licensed physicians.

In other action, the council:

  • Hired Delta Airport Consultants, Inc. to assist with the engineering plans for airport improvements.

  • Deferred ruling on a Proposed Ordinance Relating to Density Calculations; and Conditional Use No. 1318 for Wayne Cropper until the council can adopt clear language regarding campgrounds and camping equipment.

Council also announced the upcoming referendums and public hearing dates for two proposed sewer districts and the Americana Bayside development:

  • Proposed Oak Orchard Sanitary Sewer District:
    Deadline for Absentee Ballots is noon Friday, February 11, 2000
    Referendum -- Saturday, February 12, 2000 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.

  • Proposed Bay View Estates Sanitary Sewer District:
    Public Hearing at the Selbyville Middle School on Saturday, February 12, 2000
    Discussion of the proposed system, estimated system costs and user fees.
    Deadline for Absentee Ballots is noon Wednesday, February 23, 2000
    Referendum -- Thursday, February 24, 2000 from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m.

  • Americana Bayside
    The Technical Advisory Committee will review the plan at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 2000 in council chambers at the Sussex County Administrative Building.
    Planning and Zoning Public Hearing at the council chambers 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, 2000.
    County Council Public Hearing at the council chambers at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, 2000.
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