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January 24, 2014     Cape Gazette
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18 FRIDAY, JANUARY 24 - MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2014 Cape Gazette New-look administration building will offer one-stop shopping By Ron MacArthur Beneath the lobby, a new con- ronm@capegazette.com ference room with upgraded technology is under construction Sussex County government to provide video conferencing will continue to improve its el- and video streaming. Council ficiency and effectiveness in the will also use the room for execu- coming year, says County Ad- tire sessions. ministrator Todd Lawson. Lawson oversees more than As Lawson begins his second 490 employees - down from year in the post, he said most of nearly 550 in 2009 - and an over- what the county accomplishes in all budget of $123 million for 2014 had its start in 2013. "We are fscal year 2014. starting to see the effects now," he said. Emphasis on staff training Improved customer serviceLawson said staff wants more has been high on the county training, and it didn't take long hit list. Over the past three for him to institute the Sussex years, the County has invested County Leadership Development $1.8 million in a state-of-the-art Course run by new employee computer system that better in'- Ann DelNegro. In addition, the tegrates county departments second floor of the West Com- and improves customer service plex building has been converted - highlighted by a new and im- to a conference/training room proved county website, complete with technology re- This spring, the county will quired for training on computer take another major step by fin- software programs. ishing a $420,000 improvement Lawson said it's imperative project to the county adminis- that staff have the proper skills tration building at 2 The Circle. to deal with the public. When work is completed, cus- He said" training has already tomers will have what Lawson started to pay off in financial calls a one-stop shop to get a savings, staff morale and staff building permit, dog license or knowledge. "This has really marriage license, get pl.ans re- viewed and pay bills. County helped improve the culture of customers will no longer have our staff," he said. "Employees to walk to offices all over the are seeing this as an investment in them and their professional building. Ultimately, Lawson s /id, the development." county would like to provide a He said DelNegro has de- greeter to mirror what the Dela- veloped a training program ware Division of Motor Vehicles designed specifically for Sussex does to assist customers with County's needs."The county has questions'and direct them to the never done this before," he said. proper departments. Eye on the construction industry "In this area we are going to pull our foot off the pedal a little In 2014, Lawson said, county and see if our customer-service administration will need to keep design works," Lawson said. a keen eye on building trends. Much of the work in and So far this fiscal year, building- around the lobby is complete, related revenue is up between SUSSEX COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR Todd 20 and 30 percent, which re- quires more work by county staff. Building-related revenue is the financial engine that drives Sus- sex County's operating budget. "We have to make sure we have the appropriate staff to stay on schedule," Lawson said. Over the past four years, a lull in new construction led to cut- ting back on hiring and retraining staff for different positions. Law- son said as construction picks up, the county could be shorthanded, but more time will tell the true story. "It's something we have to stay on top of," he said. Realty transfer taxes - split with the state - account for 32 percent, or $16 million, of the county's anticipated general fund revenue. Other building-related revenue totals about $2.4 million. Airport runway work to continue Several key capital projects The county's planning and zoning office has been transformed into a one-stop shopping area where customers can get permits and licenses, get plans reviewed and pay property tax and other bills. RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS Lawson starts his second year in the position this month. SUSSEX AT A GLANCE Population (2012): 203,000 compared to 197,000 in 2010. Square miles: 936 People per square mile: 210 Registered Democrats: 49,000 Registered Republicans: 48,000 People below poverty level: 13 percent Per capita income: $27,000 Median family income by towns: Henlopen Acres, $163,000; Dewey Beach, $97,000; Rehoboffi Beach, $59,000; Lewes, $59,000; Milton, $40,000. Average county tax bill (single family): $107 will be completed in the coming lion in fiscal 2014 - than any other year. The $2.7 million Greenwood department. library is set to open at the end of February or in early March. Expansion of sewer districts Improvements are planned to Sewer is big business for Sus- the older section of the countys sex County, and plans are in the main runway at the county's air- works to expand the county's port. Included in the $4.5 million system by eliminating old indi- project is repaving and regroov- vidual systems and providing ing of a 4,500-foot section of access to new developments the runway, the same runway within county planning areas. that was extended 500 feet in The work requires several phases 2013. The project also. includes that usually occur over several improved runway lighting and years, Lawson said. instrumentation equipment. Getting underway is the In addition, Lawson said, the $167,000 Goslee Creek planning county will continue work to- area study to look at the feast- ward securing funding for a bility and costs associated with second 500-foot extension of providing sewer to a large area the runway to complete the goal from Beaver Dam Road to east of of a 6,000-foot runway at the Route 24 north of Love Creek. At airport. During the next phase, least four approved or planned Park Avenue, the truck bypass subdivisions and possibly a new route around Georgetown, will elementary school are included be realigned, which will require in the planning area. funding from the Delaware De- The focus of the county's sew- partment of Transportation. er business will continue to be Lawson said while there is no elimination of individual sep- funding for the roadwork.this fs- tic systems in the Inland Bays cal year, it would not stop design watershed, but as less and less work for the project, land in eastern Sussex County Four new paramedics units is available to serve, other areas will begin service in 2014, and of the county become targets for staff will look at building a new central sewer. Station 105 in Bethany Beach in "The evolution of the county's a continuing effort to get out of sewer system is moving west- leased building arrangements, ward toward Route 24 and Route The county spends more on the 23," Lawson said. "Potential users paramedic department - $13 mil- drive where we go."