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Lewes, Delaware
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March 10, 2009     Cape Gazette
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-1- ! Cape Gazette NEWS TUESDAY, MARCH 10 - THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2009 13 MOLLY WlNGATE GRAPHI( COUNCILMAN MIKE VINCENT, R-Seaford represents District 1; Councilman Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown, represents District 2; Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D- Rehoboth Beach, represents District 3; Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View, represents District 4; and Council President Vance Phillips, R-Laurel, represents District 5. [)istrict Continued from page11 as other comity employees. The council president earns $1,000 more per year than other mem- bers. Last year, Sussex County Council voted 3-2 in favor of adding two at-large members fol- lowed by the House of Represen- tatives where lawmakers passed a bill to expand council, 35-4. The measure died in the Senate, where it did not come to a vote. Rep. Joe Booth, R-Georgetown, has sponsored a similar measure this year when he preded House Bill 65 earlier this month. Booth also said part of his reasoning in introducing the bill is to keep the discussion of representation alive. Phillips said residents might be better served if they had a chance to vote countywide for a council president. Today, council members vote among them- selves to elect officers. In New Castle County, resi- dents cast ballots for an at-large council president. Kent County residents do not. If Sussex Coun- ty wanted to allow its residents to vote for council president, it would take a legislative change in Dover, said Sussex County De- partment of Elections of Admin- istrative Director Kenneth Mc- DoweU. Phillips said it's too late now to add more members to council. "I think we may have missed the boat. With finances like they are, we just can't afford it right now. But, in the past I've always supported additional, at-large seats. But, if we allow residents to choose a council president it would allow for a countywide debate every two years," Phillips said. He said it would be too costly to add two new members. He estimated taxpayers might pay as much as $250,000 in ex- penses - money that would come from the county's general fund - for salaries, benefits and travel expenses, piling more onto coun- ty deficits, Cole, who supports more members on council, said Phillips is exaggerating costs. "I think it's in the best interest of the county. Because of Our size and growth, it's appropriate for an honest debate," Cole said. He said extra salaries could be drawn from members' discre- tionary funds that were recently reduced from $60,000 to $30,000 per each council member. "None of us, as individuals, have staff that work for us. We share staff. I don't see extra costs as a prob- lem. That would come from somebody who opposes the pro- posal. That's just an excuse," Cole said. Sussex County Finance Direc- tor Susan Webb is reviewing costs to add two members, said Phillips. Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, said ' she wants people who live near the coast to better represented. She said council should wait until after the 2010 Census to consider adding members. In the meantime, she said, "George and I are really keeping an eye on the coast." Deaver said she supports a countywide vote for president. She said many residents under- estimate the work of the council president. "I'm finding that the person elected to county presi- dent not only sets the agenda and runs meetings. Now, I'm learning what really happens. He's'in touch with the county adminis- trator on a daily basis. It's almost a fulI-time job for him. The coun- ty president is actually acting as an elected official," she said. Now's not the time to consider extra costs, said Councilman Mike Vincent, R-Seaford. He agrees with Deaver to walt until after the census is over. He said all levels of government are hit- ting shortfalls head-on. 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