George "Jody" Sweeney for
5th District Levy Court
1 application for a new development was received in 3 years on Levy
Court. Major growth has returned to its pre-2005 pace. 2012
continue to hold the position that existing taxpayers NEVER
pay more taxes
as a result of infrastructure requirements for a new development.
2016 - There has only been 1 applicaton for a new development in
last four years. Developers in Kent County continue to build out the
tens of thousands of vacant lots in existing developments. But, when
they come back for new developments, many new ordinances will keep
infrastrucutre under control. 2020 - No new
applications for new developments.
Economy - In
years, Kent County Levy Court has supported efforts to bring major
economic change to the county, including the Aeorpark expansion at DAFB
and the Regional Sport Facility in Frederica. We have provided
funds from our Strategic Incentives Fund to entice new businesses to
move to the county and hire out of work Kent Countians. 2012 - We will continue
to offer incentives for businesses
relocate to Kent County and to hire County residents. Continue to
promote the area as the most attractive location for new businesses
large and small. 2016 - The regional
and the DAFB Aeropark continue to be the biggest economic expansion in
the last 25 years in Kent County. They will bring many millions of
revenue to the businesses in Kent County from tourism and parents who
support their childrens atheltic endeavors. 2020
- DE Turf has become the largest Economic Driver in Kent County, but
still hopeful that the DAFB Aeropark will move off the dime in the next
few years, providing commercial transportation on DAFB runways.
conditions and congestion - Rules currently exist
to enforce developers to consider road conditions before
- Levy Court
continues to work with DelDOT to ensure that these rules are enforced.
- Levy Court has included conditions on many
new projects that consider traffic patterns and entrances.2020
- Traffic congestion continues to be an issue with Camden annexing and
growing retail outlets. DelDOT is unable to keep pace, but
planning major renovations to RT 13 in the next 10 years. Kent
County has planned Economic Growth Zones closer to the major highway
off Rt 1.
Reassessment and Taxes - There is no energy behind any legislative body that I am aware of to perform a reassessment of homes in the County. 2016, as new permits come in for additions or construction on residences, an assessment is completed. 2020 - A major court case will decide the next reassessment, resulting in a partnership between the Counties and State to pay for a very expensive reassessment of every property in the State. This will be ordered by a Chancellor in Chancery Court. The result of ANY reassessment does not change: 1/3 of homes increases, 2/3 of homes decreases or stay the same. The current tax rate will change to ensure the State Code is followed.
overcrowding and funding - Continued
effort needs to be made to seek savings as a result of purchasing
consolidation and construction design. I am not in favor of
relinquishing local control of the district to a group that may not
have our district in their best interests. 2016 - School
Districts throughout Kent County have taken advantage of Impact Fees
collected by Ordinance in Kent County whenever a new construction
occurs. These impact fees provide millions toward expansion of schools
to accomodate more children. 2020
- Schools continue to apply to the State for a Certificate of Need,
which then partners Districts with the State to fund new school
expansion to meet student needs. Theses Certificate of Needs are
mostly turned down for lesser construction or improvements. Kent
County contineus to provide an Impact Fee for new construction that
goes directly to school districts for those needs.
Funding and Crime - 2012 - Levy Court should
provide funding for the Kent County Crimewatch of Delaware group, as
well as, when possible, additional funding for the Delaware State
Police should be identified. 2016 - We continue to
the Kent County Crimewatch of Delaware, as well as the efforts of every
municipal police agency and the Delaware State Police. This past year,
we provided more tha $200 thousand in funds to those agencies,
including assisting the DSP in purchasing a horse trailer and dualy
pickup for their Mounted Police Unit. 2020
- State funding for additional Police Officers in Kent County is
non-existent. Kent County is the only hope for funding , with a
very minor tax increase. As of January 1, 2020, there is a split
support in favor of new police offiers including a tax increase, and
the opposite which is no tax increase for any reason.
Paramedic Services - 2012 & 2016 - The service needs to be funded as is, or to change the proportional funding so that the State pays more of a share.
Volunteer Fire Services - 2012 - Kent County increased funding to Volunteer Firefighter companies by 33% in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. This is still not sufficient for these volunteer services. 2016 - We again increased our funding for vounteer fire companies. In the last two years, the Kent County Volunteer Firefighter Association has provided an analysis of Fire Company calls, to allow us to adjust that funding to companies depending on the number of homes, the size of their district, and the number of calls they get. This is a much fairer assessment that has benefitted the Camden-Wyoming Fire Company.2020 - The 2020 Kent County Budget increased the grant to Kent County Volunteer Fire Companies to $960,000, an increase from the 2010 level of just $356,000.
Homeowner Associations - In 2007-08, both State and County governments required the creation of Homeowner Associations to provide for the management of open spaces, stormwater ponds, snow removal, and amenities. Five years later, HOA's are struggling with these responsibilities and it is up to the County to help. A new County website has information for both the HOA leadership and homeowners, three County Employees are tasked with responding to HOA issues, Kent Conservation District is looking into the creation of optional Stormwater Pond Districts to assist with the major upkeep of ponds, and Levy Court is looking into how to improve collection. 2016 - The Stormwater District program is up and running and very successful, with more than 20 sub-divisions throughout the County particpating. The Homeowner Associations Resolving Problems (HARP) group continues to work with Commissioners and Legislators to affect more ordinances and laws that protect all homeowners living in an HOA run development. 2020 - Kent County Commissioners have taken a stronger view of supporting HOA Deed Restrictions that contradict Kent County Code. If the development has a stronger restriction, it is likely taken into consideration.
Customer Service - County employees are like any other human, subject to bad days. When it comes to working with the public, we will strive to resolve the resident's problem and to have them leave with a feeling that we did everything we could do to help them.
Permit Application Approval Times - Some Permits are just nonsense. We
are working to decrease the permit reasons for appearing in front of a
Committee or the Levy Court, allowing for desk approvals by the
Director of Planning if all conditions are met and there is no
opposition from neighbors.2020
- Levy Court approved an additional appeal process, at no cost to the
applicant, to appeal Planning Department decisions that are
contradictory to County Code.
Property Rights - Homeowners have a right to be able to do what they want with their property, as long as it does not interfere with a neighbor, potentially devalue a neighbor or development's value, or create an unsafe condition.
Dog Control - Kent County Levy Court, after a long and contentious negotiation with the Kent County SPCA, has decided to end our relationship with the SPCA and to seek a temporary relationship with Safe Haven, a shelter in Georgetown. Safe Haven will be looking to partner with a local shelter in the County to provide for ease of residents seeking to be reunited with their dog. I am hopeful that the State will reconsider the current animal control system and take all services back to the State. In 2016 - I am happy to say that Kent County Levy Court is no longer responsible for Dog Control. The State Office of Animal Welfare has taken over this responsibility, hiring Animal Control Officers, providing the correct training and proper supervision, to improve Dog Control services for Kent County and the whole State. 2020 - Kent County, while not responsible for Animal Control, continues to fund animal control since 2009. The funding amount has been adjusted to a more fair representation of the county's animal population.
State Budget - As the State Legislature looks to balance their budget, I am a constant fighter for them to look within to fund areas to cut, instead of looking to divert expenses to the county. UPDATE: As of Oct 1, 2016, the State Budget is short $163,000,000. We cannot allow the State Legislators to balance their budget on the backs of the Counties.
Kent County Comptroller - I have been working with State Legislators to eliminate the elected office of Comptroller for Kent County to save County taxpayers more than $150,000 per year. This is an obsolete position and the duties are completely redundant and no longer needed. The current sitting Comptroller, Georgette Williams, is completely in agreement. UPDATE: In 2016, the Legislature has removed the Comptroller as an elected office, saving the County and its taxpayers nearly $150,000 per year.
Home Owner Associations - As of the mid-1990's, Kent County and the State of Delaware requires the creation of a homeowner-owned association to manage open space and snow removal. Because these organizations are usually started by the developer, they are often managed only be the developer with little to know accountability to the homeowners. This is an area where I have committed a lot of my time to resolve issue by forcing the developer to notify the homeowners when and why changes are necessary, and to follow through on committments made when selling property in their developments. When the HOA is turned over to the homeowners, the board all too often has problems in getting the annual fees, and Levy Court has made it easier for the board to take action to settle those fees. Next, I will work on the enforcement of HOA Deeds and Restrictions. 2020 - Kent County Commissioners have taken a stronger view of supporting HOA Deed Restrictions that contradict Kent County Code. If the development has a stronger restriction, it is likely taken into consideration.
Kent County Hotel Occupancy Tax - As a Levy Court Commissioner, I am committed to accounting for every dollar that is collected as a tax from those who live, work, play in or travel through Kent County. When the Hotel Occupancy Tax was discussed, I was committed to finding ways to support the Kent County Regional Sports Facility (DE Turf). Too many questions were raised concerning the collection of a tax for a single non-profit entity, operational expenses for DE Turf, and how the money was legislated to be spent by DE Turf. I asked for and received a public meeting, held at Polytech High School and attended by moe than 100 residents, who heard a presentation of the DE Turf's plans. Many questions were raised, leading to the Legislation not being considered by Levy Court, and the potential to have the bill stricken from Delaware Code in the upcoming General Assembly. I am still committed to working with DE Turf to find ways to make them successful, as they are one of the best economic drivers in Kent County in history.
Economic Growth - All families would like their children to find good paying jobs near their family home. Levy Court is making that a reality with three areas of economic growth approved in the last eight years. The first is the DAFB Aeropark expansion, which will provide for commercial air transport companies to land at DAFB, use a separate tarmac from the military to offload and onload packages, or to simply park their planes for overnight stays, instead of having to relocate to a much more expensive airport in New Jersey or New York.
The second and third are the South Fredierica and Little Heaven Planning Areas, providing for commercial (non-retail) and light industrical growth. These areas will bring higher paying jobs to the area, keeping our trades and college education children in the area.
Residential Growth - Working with municipalities to adopt construction ordinances similar to the Kent County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances. The APFO's provide funding for schools, roads, emergency services, and sewer/water infrastructure, based on new construction. When a home is built, the developer pays into a fund that helps those services cover the increase in need.