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Sussex County approves $265.8M for FY25

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GEORGETOWN – Sussex County approved a $265.8 million budget for the 2025 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The County Council approved the budget on June 18 after a public hearing. The budget maintains county property taxes at their current levels for another year. However, the budget includes various fee increases and rate adjustments, such as an additional $10 annually for sewer services and $15 more per year for unmetered water for public utility users.

“This is a sensible budget that ensures the County continues to meet demand and provide the highest quality services, but at a price that remains affordable for our taxpayers,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “That’s a tall order for any government, but one that we are especially proud of, especially in light of stubborn inflation and continued economic uneasiness.”

While the County continues to increase funding for vital services to meet the demand of its residents and visitors, thanks to still-strong housing revenues, the overall budget is down some $13 million, or 4.6 percent, from the current year’s plan as capital spending slows and federal funding from the pandemic-era American Rescue Plan Act package cycles out.

The budget is supported by a mix of income streams, including property taxes, realty transfer taxes, sewer service fees, building permit fees, and document recording fees. That revenue, in turn, funds a wealth of local services, including paramedics and 911 dispatchers, public wastewater treatment, building inspection, and public libraries, among other services.

Among the highlights in the proposed FY2025 budget, the proposal includes $52.5 million for wastewater infrastructure, including new sewer mains, increased treatment capacity, and other upgrades to the County’s utility systems; $7.4 million to preserve open space and farmland that otherwise could be developed; increased funding, from $4.1 million to $4.6 million, for the County’s contract with the State of Delaware for supplemental state police troopers assigned to Sussex County; $3.4 million to pay for the continuing court-ordered countywide reassessment of all properties; $5.7 million for local fire companies and ambulance squads to help with operational costs, including paid EMT salaries; and increased funding, from $800,000 to $900,00, for municipalities providing local law enforcement services. There is also funding, totaling $2.6 million, for the design, planning, and construction of paramedic stations in the Dewey Beach, Lincoln, Millsboro, and Milton areas.

County Finance Director Gina A. Jennings said the budget continues the trend in recent years of balancing rising demand for public services while accounting for increased costs, all while maintaining the County’s long-held conservative fiscal management practices. Council President Michael H. Vincent said the County’s consistent financial track record of limited spending, no matter the economic condition, but still providing core services – especially public safety – should be reassuring to taxpayers who may face their own challenges in balancing their household or business budgets.

“Providing a no-nonsense, reasonable budget that guarantees the critical local services we all have come to expect and doing it in a way that doesn’t break the bank, I think that’s something the public truly appreciates. It’s one less thing to have to worry about,” President Vincent said. “Sussex County knows whose money it is, and we work every day to make sure it’s used wisely to provide the best value possible.”

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