An increase in tax revenue on real estate transfers in the first seven months of the fiscal year could allow Sussex County officials to spend an additional $ 11.4 million on public safety and economic development measures.
In addition, the county could proceed with the already approved $ 8 million expenditure for additional spending.
At its February 9 meeting, Sussex County Council introduced an order authorizing a change in the budget. Before funds can be allocated, the council must hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance.
In this fiscal year, the county budgeted $ 22.8 million in land transfer tax revenue for the full year. So far, in seven months, the county has raised $ 32.5 million.
Sussex County Finance Director Gina Jennings proposed the following expenses:
• $ 1 million for the acquisition of land for future emergency medical services stations
• $ 5.375 million for 22 county ambulance and fire departments
• $ 3 million for Excite Sussex Loan Fund, the county’s economic development loan program.
Under the proposal, Jennings said, each fire and ambulance company in the county would have an account opened with the Delaware Community Foundation with funds to purchase an ambulance. The fund would be $ 250,000 for 21 companies, with the Carlisle Fire Co. in Milford receiving $ 125,000 as it covers Sussex and Kent counties.
Jennings said $ 5.375 million would be given to the foundation for companies to access when needed.
In addition to a proposed $ 3 million contribution to the Excite Fund, Discover Bank would match the County’s 3-for-1 contribution with an additional $ 9 million, for a total of $ 12 million.
As part of the program, Jennings said, a low-interest loan of $ 12,000 at 3.44% would be available to existing businesses in the county with 10 to 500 employees. Companies must demonstrate that the funds will create or maintain permanent full-time jobs in Sussex County.
The Excite program has had a good track record so far, Jennings said. The original $ 4 million fund, including money from the county and Discover Bank, was used by four companies, helping to keep or create 131 full-time jobs.
Jennings said $ 1 million would be used to purchase land for future paramedical stations as part of an ongoing plan to opt out of rental agreements and take ownership of the stations. She said the county was renting space for three of its nine stations.
Jennings also said $ 8 million would be used for additional spending already approved in the budget.
The use of the additional funds would include $ 1 million for economic development, $ 2 million for the grant fund, including $ 1 million for the purchase of open spaces, and $ 4 million for construction projects. investment, including funds for the new Western Sussex business park in Seaford.
Among the many additional expenses are fencing at the airport; purchase of equipment, supplies and books in various departments; coaching; modernization of terminals; improvements to library buildings; and a new position in information technology for cybersecurity.
What is the tax on real estate transfers?
Real estate transfer taxes, the county’s largest source of revenue, can be spent on capital and operating costs of public safety services, economic development programs, capital and improvement projects. public works, projects and infrastructure improvements and debt reduction.
The 4% tax is levied on the sale of all properties, 2.5% going to the state and 1.5% to the counties.