Political inaction blamed in tax lawsuit (Xerxes Wilson & Jeanne Kuang)

More on why everyone agrees re periodic property reassessment, but it hasn’t happened in Delaware.

#Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson (in an interview before the pending lawsuit was filed): People aren’t complaining about paying taxes lower than other states, nor do I hear that “I’m paying too much taxes in Sussex Country and the guys at the beach need to be paying more than the guys in western Sussex.” New construction is valued based on best guesses of what the cost would have been in 1974 when the last reassessment took place, so everyone is being treated more or less the same.

#Natural inclination of politicians not to stick their necks out unless being pushed.

#Catch-up reassessments in other states have generated problems, e.g., a wave of appeals in Alleghany County, PA that “ended up blowing holes” in the local school district’s budget. And it might be necessary to phase in adjustments over time versus making them in one fell swoop.

#Reassessment is an involved process, with assessors visiting every home. Estimates developed in the legal case say the bill would be in the range of $15-27 million and the process would take 3 years to complete.

#State legislators don’t want the state involved, view this matter as a “county problem.” And Gov. Carney has supplied a written statement in support of reassessment without addressing how it should be funded. Still, it’s generally agreed that “the state should take politics out of the situation by setting up framework[s] like most other states where reassessments occur on a regular basis.”


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