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Lewes, Delaware
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April 14, 1995     Cape Gazette
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April 14, 1995
 

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CAPE G, Friday, April 14 - April 20, 1995 Milton inches toward goal of joint librarycommunity center By Steve Hoenigmann The town of Milton is inching towards its goal of establishing a joint library/community center in the munici- parity of 1,500 on the Bmadkill River. Sussex County Council on Tuesday, April 11, at the request of Milton Mayor Rev. Grace Ruth Batten, agreed to form a committee to explore the possibilities of combining the current library with its next door neighbor, the town owned - and con- demned - Milton Civic Center on Union Street. Batten was joined in her quest by Tony Boyd-Heron, president of Milton's Main Street Committee. Batten told council members that while the population of Mil- ton is 1,500, more than 3,200 residents in a six-mile radius around Milton used the county-owned library. "The County Library, Milton, is one of Milton's most treasured facilities and is a very important part of our community life," Batten said in a prepared statement. "We believe all of us must plan for the an- ticipated growth of the Milton area. Mil- ton needs a community center that will ac- commodate the present needs as well as the needs of the community 20 years from now." The civic center, condemned last year because it is structurally unsafe, once served as a temporary library while the current fibrary building under went signif- icant repairs and renovations after it was damaged by nearby bridge work two years ago. The county spent $70,000 on the renovations and repairs. "We need to see what the entire corn- munity's needs are," said County Admin- istrator Robert Stickels, adding that dis- cussion of combining the two facilities is very preliminary. "We do have funds set aside in the Fiscal Year 1998 budget, that's two years away, that were going to be used to expand the library. We might be able to use those funds to obtain matching funds from the state." Boyd-Heron said that the residents of Milton would like to see a community center that could accommodate up to 300 people with a stage and one that had ade- quate parking. "Right now, there is no ad- equate parking," said Boyd-Heron refer- ring to the unused civic center. Mayor Batten pointed out that a new development with more than 200 homes was coming to Milton in 1996. 'I know those people will use the library and com- munity center," she said. Committee members were not named Tuesday, but Stickels said later that it would probably consist of county repre- sentatives, Milton officials and residents. Voters Continued from page 1 mately 50 people stood in line waiting to cast their ballots. Near- ly 230 people voted in just that hour. At Rehoboth Elementary School, 398 voters supported and 207 rejected the measure. The vote was closest at Milton Middle School, where only 54 percent of the vote generated support; 296 people voted to pass it, and 251 voted against the referendum. "I was thrilled," said Superin- tendent Suellen Skeen. "I was worried all day, but parents showed strong support, and there was lots of support from senior citizens too. They said they could handle taxes staying the same; it's increases they don't like." A document prepared by Assis- tant Superintendent Marshall Jones indicates that in conjunction with projected assessments for the next five years, the district's pro- jected income from the transfer is as follows: 1995-96, $213,000; 1996-97, $229,050; 1997-98, $235,800; 1998-99, $242,550; 1999-00, $249,300. Hopkins said the board will use the money to cover bud- getary items impacted by inflation, but "not the things we've cut in the past." He said the board has not, for ex- ample, dis- cussed reinstating any of the 16.6 professional positions that it voted to eliminate last spring. Skeen has said at public meet- ings that the items hardest hit by inflation are such things as text books, general maintenance and employment costs. The revenues generated by the referendum may cove  'y of the general operating expe, '. Hopkins also said he foresees th+ upcoming curriculum buy "coming forward without a problem." Sarah Ross, president of Cape Henlopen Education Association, , said, "I think the majority of teachers are hoping it will help them out in the classrooms. We were delighted by the outcome. We appreciate all those people who voted to support the referen- dum." The last referendum to pass in the Cape district was in 1989. Voters supported a five cents tax transfer to pay for stadium lights at Cape Henlopen High School and some other district needs. Since then, voters failed to sup- port two other referenda. In March of 1992, voters reject- ed a tax hike for an increased gen- eral operating budget by a 523 vote margin. In the fall of 1993 the community turned down the district's request for tax dollars to increase the general operating budget, with a 1,763 to 1,240 vote. As districts throughout the state have often failed to pass referen- da, state officials have been exam- ining other alternatives for gener- ating educational dollars. Last year Sen. Robert Voshell, D-Mil- ford, introduced Senate Joint Res- olution 12, which established the Assessment Practice Review Committee. Its purpose was to examine the property assessment inconsisten- cies and develop recommenda- tions for providing uniformity throughout the state. Its "Summary of Proposed Rec- ommendations" recommends uni- fying the standards of assessments in Delaware. It states, "A uniform property assessment system will...provide school districts with more accu- rate assessment information for use in determining equalization funds." The committee recommends that all three counties be assessed at I00 percent of valuation. Presently, New Castle County as- sesses at 100 percent of the 1983 values. Kent County assesses at 67 percent of 1987 values, and Sussex County is at 50 percent of 1974 values. The committee also recom- mends all properties be reassessed on an annual schedule so that each property is reassessed every five years. Should the state opt to ac- cept the recommendations and up- date property assessments statewide, school districts would see no more than a ten percent in- crease in revenue. Cape Henlopen Kerry Kester photo Cape Henlopen Board of Education board members cast their votes for the referendum at Lewes Middle School Vot- ing was steady at the school all day, with most voters casting their ballots at that location. Nearly 1300 of the 2459 total votes were cast in Lewe Shown trom 0. to r.) are Susan Ash- by, Board Member Tony Streett, Diane Wilson, Francis Cutrona and Board President Walter Hopkins. School District member Dave Baker, who is finance director for Sussex County Council, said state law prohibits a school district from increasing taxes more than 10 percent from the previous year unless it is for new construction. The Assessment Practice Re- view Committee has been com- posing a draft bill addressing its recommendations. Its goal is to have a final draft of the bill ready shortly after the General Assem- bly's spring recess. At that point it will seek a sponsor for the bill. Legislators are also examining a bill that would provide alternative funding to schools. Robert Con- nor, R-Penn Acres, and Rep. Bruce Reynolds, R-Wilmington Manor, have proposed Senate Bill 100, which would ease the onus of school taxes from property own- ers. It proposes a portion of the state's surplus budget be invested in an interest-bearing account. The state would add to the ac- count each year. Schools could apply for those funds when they need to increase their general op- erating budgets. The bill is in Sen- ate Committee now. House Bill 104, sponsored by Rep. William Oberle, R-Beech- er's Lot, proposes a school tax break for senior citizens on a lim- ited income. Seniors who are 65 years or older and their spouses would be exempt from school tax increases if their incomes are $30,000 or less annually. Howev- er, if their properties increase in value as a result of improvements, they could be taxed on the differ- ence. That bill is now in the Senate Finance CommiRee. Chambers Continued from page 1 dent, and June Turansky. The election is May 13. Area B encompasses the general area from Delaware Rt. 9 west to slightly east of the Harbeson area. It proceeds north along Delaware 249, bypassing Milton to Delaware Rt. 233. It then roughly follows Branch River toward Delaware Bay between Prime- hook and Broadkill beaches. Chambers graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1964. From there he went to the Univer- sity of Miami, where he earned a bachelor of science degree, busi- ness administration, in 1968. He is an officer in the Lewes of- fice of Broyhill & Chambers In- surance. He is a member of the Professional Insurance Associa- tion and the American Society of Lewes planners to hear subdivision request The Lewes Planning Commis- sion will meet on Wednesday, April 19, 1995 to hear a subdivi- sion request on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Stango. They own property at 48 DeVries Circle and that property is improved with a two family (duplex) dwelling. The planning commission meet- ing will begin at 7:30 p.m. Lewes Board of Public Works meets April 20 Lewes Board of Public Works will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 20 beginning at 8 p.m. Since this is the first meeting of the BPW following the April 1 election date, the board agenda in- eludes reorganization. No general election was held this year since only incumbents Jim Bell, Dick Buckaloo and Charles Hood signed up for the three seats that were up for elec- tion. Tom McClain currently serves as president. Other agenda items include the issue of who pays for electricity and mainte- nance of street lights along private streets in Lewes. Lewes's Board of Public Works administers the town's electric, sewer and water systems. The public is invited to attend. Chartered Life Underwriters. Chambers is also the general chairman of the 1995 Sunfish North American Race at the Lewes Yacht Club. He is on the publications committee of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Chambers and his wife Susan are the parents of two daughters. Their older daughter, Lisa, is a sophomore at the University of Delaware. Their younger daughter is a junior at Cape Henlopen High School. The family is active in Saint Peter's Church of Lewes. Three have filed for the At-large seats. Dave Baker, incumbent, is running against Dave Stevenson and Brent Moore. Tony Streett has filed candidacy for the Area C seat; he is running unopposed. The parent Teacher Student As- sociation will sponsor an evening with the candidates on Monday, May 1 in the Little Theatre at Cape Henlopen High School.