County council gets an update on pending state legislation

The Sussex County Council at their meeting this week received a legislative update from Deputy County Administrator Hal Godwin, offering them the chance to determine which, if any, of the prospective laws being discussed in the state legislature that they would like to support or oppose, or get changed.

First, Godwin reported on Senate Bill 167, which would increase the period during which a municipal or county land-use ordinance could be challenged from 60 days to indefinitely. Godwin said it would “minimize the effect and authority” of such ordinances and added that the sponsor, Karen Peterson (D-Stanton), “promised it would not move forward” as written.

Godwin also brought up HB 152, which was tabled last year and addresses county assessors and their training. He said it would most likely be a “moot point” and would be stricken. He said the current bill would recant the bill from October 2011 and would allow the counties to continue “using their own paradigm for assessing real estate.”

He also reported on HB 274, which deals with the licensing of dogs; HB 278, concerning school and property taxes; HB 281, regarding the county being able to set its own capitation tax; HB 283, about personnel; and SB 156, regarding dog tethering.

Godwin further reported that HB 290, concerning the duties and authority of county sheriffs and their deputies, had been tabled. He also asked the council to thoroughly read the text of SB 149, relating to conservation of endangered species, saying “the agricultural community and the counties and the towns” had some issues with it.

“Please read it carefully. I’d like to get some direction the next time we meet. It gives the secretary of DNREC considerable authority and just seems very complicated,” added Godwin.

The county council this week also discussed an ordinance change regarding the Assessment Appeals Board. Currently, that board meets on the first 15 days in March, whether there are appeals or not, at a cost of $75 per member per day. The council discussed changing the board rules so they could meet on an “as needed” basis instead.

Finally, the council also heard from the Advisory Committee on Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, concerning their strategic plan, and awarded bids for the Inland Bays Wastewater Regional Expansion Phase spray irrigation expansion, for mixers and irrigation equipment and for de-watering equipment.