Tax increase is included in budget passed by Supervisors last week

The Sussex Board of Supervisors approved the proposed budget $21,675,558 with one amendment removing $1,049 Monday night.

The 5-0 vote passed the proposed budget before the June 30 deadline with an amendment recalling a line item at Vice Chair Susan B. Seward’s request. County Administrator Deborah A. Davis noted that the line item for legal aid valued around $1,049 was for an office in Emporia at the Improvement Association.

“They ceased operation at the office, and I am not sure how long ago that was,” Davis said. “There is very little activity that I am aware of.”

Money is appropriated from the budget upon departmental requests, and the $1,049 has not been requested yet. The amendment moves this appropriation back into the general fund.

The budget as presented did not contain language resulting in an increase in tipping fees for Atlantic Waste, as was presented in meeting prior to advertisement of the budget.

The board passed the proposed four cent real estate tax increase in a 3-2 vote. Supervisors Seward and Alfred G. Futrell voted against the increase. Voting yes were Supervisors John A. Stringfield, Rufus E. Tyler and Chairman Keith C. Blowe.

The 2016 tax rates for Sussex County are as follows:

Rate Per $100 of Assessed Valuation:
Real Estate (Including Public Service Corporations) – $0.58
Mobile Homes – $0.58
Machinery & Tools – $2.43
Merchant’s Capital – $1.00
Fire & Rescue – $2.43
Tangible Personal Property (Including Public Service Corporations) – $4.85
Vice Chair Seward proposed a lower increase in the real estate tax to cover the shortfalls in the budget at a rate of roughly three and a quarter cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Chairman Blowe reminded the board again of the facts.

“The county administration has been sitting in double wide trailers administrative building for nine years,” Blowe said. “This board still does not have a plan and the funding to move forward to build what we need, a new building, a government facility for this county. The school system has over half of their fleet over a million miles on their buses.

“It’s been almost 10 years since there was an increase. If there is a few dollars left over from the increase, trust me, there are needs that are severe for this county that are far far more than the few cents that we’re going to save by going to three and a half cents or whatever the recommendation may be.”

There was no comment made in response to citizens concerns of a depressed valuation of property in the coming assessment which will take place every four years per a resolution passed in the previous board meeting earlier this month.

The exterior of the Sussex County Courthouse, where the Board of Supervisors passed the 2016-17 fiscal year budget last week, which included an increase in the real estate tax.

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