The Sussex County Council was back in chambers this week after meeting at Delaware Tech for land use public hearings last week. The council heard a presentation from Atlantic General Hospital CEO, Michael Franklin, VP of Medical Affairs and Family Practitioner Dr. Sally Dowling and Director of Emergency Services, Andrea West-McCabe. The presentation covered how the hospital, which is based in Berlin, MD responded to the coronavirus pandemic, how the hospital has grown over the years and that while they are a Maryland-based hospital, a lot of their patients come from southern Sussex County – the Selbyville, Frankford, Dagsboro, Roxana, Ocean View, Millville, Fenwick Island areas. Throughout the pandemic Franklin said that not one member of their staff was infected with coronavirus while treating a patient with the virus. As of March 4, AGH discharged over 319 patients who were treated for coronavirus.
County Administrator, Todd Lawson reminded the council that their next meeting is on the 16th and will again be at Delaware Tech in the Carter Partnership Building for land use public hearings – the meeting will begin at 10am.
Sussex County’s FY21 budget was very conservative. The realty transfer tax has brought in $33.3-million where the county originally budgeted $13,125,000. County Finance Director Gina Jennings say the budget currently is showing revenue at $12.1-million over budget. She has proposed to budget the additional realty transfer tax funding for land acquisition for future EMS stations – $1m, Ambulance Service – $5,375,000 and Economic Development Loan Program – $3m. For the ambulance services – each would have an account at the Delaware Community Foundation – $250,000 (for purchase of an ambulance) for each of the 21 companies with Carlisle, which is split between Kent and Sussex getting $125,000. While DCF would hold the funding, Sussex County would serve as an ex-officio member to ensure the funds are spent as intended. The ExciteSussex Loan Fund of $3-m would be matched 3 to 1 by Discover Bank, adding another $9-m to the loan fund managed by the National Development Council. The funding would be available for existing businesses with 10 to 500 employees that can show the funds will create or retain permanent, full-time jobs in Sussex County.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance was held during this week’s Council meeting. Jim Arrington of Bridgeville is President of the Sussex Volunteer Fireman’s Association and told the Council that they support the ordinance.
As Council prepared to vote, Council Vice President John Rieley proposed an amendment that would provide an additional $5000 to local police departments that the county provides additional funding to – for a one-time expense for technology or equipment. That was approved as was the proposed ordinance with a unanimous vote.
The Council also approved the creation of a non-endowed donor advised fund agreement with the Delaware Community Foundation for the creation of the Sussex County Ambulance Fund.
Dog Control was updated last year by the state but Delaware Animal Services, which is the enforcement unit of the Office of Animal Welfare, came before the County Council this week with a new memorandum of understanding that includes a pricing structure that adds three additional staff members and the terms would extend through 2024. Sussex County’s responsibility is to submit payment to the OAW for dog control and dangerous dog law enforcement services to county residents, per the Delaware State Budget. The cost for FY22 will be $853,422 and will increase 2% in FY23 and FY24. The Council approved the new MOU by a 4 to 1 vote with Councilwoman Cindy Green voting no.