Sussex County teams with state agencies to address littering

Sussex County will now be working with the Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) and Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to ensure that county roadways are cleaner.

In May of 2017, Michael Costello, government affairs manager for the County, gave a detailed presentation related to littering throughout Sussex County. At that time, the county council learned that the top three complaints to the County constable’s office are about lot maintenance (grass/weeds), the parking and storing of vehicles, and prohibited accumulations, such as trash.

Lot maintenance complaints make up approximately 50 percent of the office’s total complaints per year, equating to three calls per day on average.

At the June 5 council meeting, Costello said the County has always recognize the longstanding partnership between DelDOT and DOC, and that litter collection is a function DOC can provide, when staffing permits.

“With that in mind, we felt the wisest investment would be in assisting to make that staff possible,” said Costello. “We set out on a mission to provide funding for positions which are dedicated to the supervision of inmate crew used to collect litter and trash.”

Costello said that, over the last nine months, they were able to negotiate a memorandum of understanding between the two government departments and the County to boost cleanup efforts already undertaken by the State on the more-than-2,300 miles of roadways in southern Delaware.

Under the agreement, the County will not exceed funding of $120,000 annually to cover the overtime costs for Delaware correctional officers to supervise inmate work crews on supplemental cleanup jobs. The work performed will be in addition to the routine cleanup for which the County already pays.

“In the agreement, DelDOT would provide the additional vehicles needed and would handle the disposal of trash collected by inmate crews. The Department of Corrections would also receive a list of roadways based on the County’s input — this is important — that would take priority,” said Costello.

The County will be billed for the work monthly, and also receive monthly reports describing roadways covered and amount of trash collected throughout the work.

The additional work will be on an as-needed basis, driven by constituent complaints. An individual may now request litter clean-up through an online portal on the County’s website, in addition to calling the constable’s office.

“We’re extremely hopeful that these efforts will not only improve the appearance of our roadways and the environment, but also reveal the true problem areas that may require other prevention and enforcement efforts by the organizations with jurisdiction to administer those.”

Councilman Rob Arlett said individuals also need to take responsibility and not litter.

“We do live in a beautiful place,” he said. “Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the citizen who is doing this.”

“Thank you very much for all of your effort in putting this together,” added Council President Michael H. Vincent, commending Costello.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the memorandum of understanding.

Those who wish to submit a request for litter clean-up may do so by visiting the website at or calling the Sussex County Constable’s Office at (302) 855-7819.

By Maria Counts
Staff Reporter