George "Jody" Sweeney for

5th District Levy Court

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   2008 issues:


Growth - Only 1 application for a new development was received in 3 years on Levy Court.  Major growth has returned to its pre-2005 pace.   2012 - I continue to hold the position that existing taxpayers NEVER pay more taxes as a result of infrastructure requirements for a new development. 2016 - There has only been 1 applicaton for a new development in the last four years. Developers in Kent County continue to build out the tens of thousands of vacant lots in existing developments. But, when they come back for new developments, many new ordinances will keep infrastrucutre under control. 2020 - No new applications for new developments.

 

Economy - In 3 years, Kent County Levy Court has supported efforts to bring major economic change to the county, including the Aeorpark expansion at DAFB and the Regional Sport Facility in Frederica.  We have provided funds from our Strategic Incentives Fund to entice new businesses to move to the county and hire out of work Kent Countians.  2012 - We will continue to offer incentives for businesses looking to relocate to Kent County and to hire County residents.  Continue to promote the area as the most attractive location for new businesses large and small.  2016 - The regional sports facility and the DAFB Aeropark continue to be the biggest economic expansion in the last 25 years in Kent County. They will bring many millions of revenue to the businesses in Kent County from tourism and parents who support their childrens atheltic endeavors.  2020 - DE Turf has become the largest Economic Driver in Kent County, but still hopeful that the DAFB Aeropark will move off the dime in the next few years, providing commercial transportation on DAFB runways.

 

Road conditions and congestion - Rules currently exist to enforce developers to consider road conditions before building.  2012 - Levy Court continues to work with DelDOT to ensure that these rules are enforced.   2016 - Levy Court has included conditions on many new projects that consider traffic patterns and entrances.2020 - Traffic congestion continues to be an issue with Camden annexing and growing retail outlets.  DelDOT is unable to keep pace, but planning major renovations to RT 13 in the next 10 years.  Kent County has planned Economic Growth Zones closer to the major highway off Rt 1.

 

Reassessment and Taxes - There is no energy behind any legislative body that I am aware of to perform a reassessment of homes in the County. 2016, as new permits come in for additions or construction on residences, an assessment is completed. 2020 - A major court case will decide the next reassessment, resulting in a partnership between the Counties and State to pay for a very expensive reassessment of every property in the State.  This will be ordered by a Chancellor in Chancery Court.  The result of ANY reassessment does not change: 1/3 of homes increases, 2/3 of homes decreases or stay the same.  The current tax rate will change to ensure the State Code is followed.

 

School overcrowding and funding - Continued effort needs to be made to seek savings as a result of purchasing consolidation and construction design.  I am not in favor of relinquishing local control of the district to a group that may not have our district in their best interests. 2016 - School Districts throughout Kent County have taken advantage of Impact Fees collected by Ordinance in Kent County whenever a new construction occurs. These impact fees provide millions toward expansion of schools to accomodate more children. 2020 - Schools continue to apply to the State for a Certificate of Need, which then partners Districts with the State to fund new school expansion to meet student needs.  Theses Certificate of Needs are mostly turned down for lesser construction or improvements.  Kent County contineus to provide an Impact Fee for new construction that goes directly to school districts for those needs.

 

Police Funding and Crime -   2012 - Levy Court should continue to provide funding for the Kent County Crimewatch of Delaware group, as well as, when possible, additional funding for the Delaware State Police should be identified. 2016 - We continue to support the Kent County Crimewatch of Delaware, as well as the efforts of every municipal police agency and the Delaware State Police. This past year, we provided more tha $200 thousand in funds to those agencies, including assisting the DSP in purchasing a horse trailer and dualy pickup for their Mounted Police Unit. 2020 - State funding for additional Police Officers in Kent County is non-existent.  Kent County is the only hope for funding , with a very minor tax increase.  As of January 1, 2020, there is a split support in favor of new police offiers including a tax increase, and the opposite which is no tax increase for any reason. 

 

Paramedic Services -  2012 & 2016 - The service needs to be funded as is, or to change the proportional funding so that the State pays more of a share.  

 

Volunteer Fire Services - 2012 - Kent County increased funding to Volunteer Firefighter companies by 33% in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.  This is still not sufficient for these volunteer services 2016 - We again increased our funding for vounteer fire companies. In the last two years, the Kent County Volunteer Firefighter Association has provided an analysis of Fire Company calls, to allow us to adjust that funding to companies depending on the number of homes, the size of their district, and the number of calls they get. This is a much fairer assessment that has benefitted the Camden-Wyoming Fire Company.2020 - The 2020 Kent County Budget increased the grant to Kent County Volunteer Fire Companies to $960,000, an increase from the 2010 level of just $356,000. 

     

   2012 Issues:


Homeowner Associations - In 2007-08, both State and County governments required the creation of Homeowner Associations to provide for the management of open spaces, stormwater ponds, snow removal, and amenities.  Five years later, HOA's are struggling with these responsibilities and it is up to the County to help.  A new County website has information for both the HOA leadership and homeowners, three County Employees are tasked with responding to HOA issues, Kent Conservation District is looking into the creation of optional Stormwater Pond Districts to assist with the major upkeep of ponds, and Levy Court is looking into how to improve collection. 2016 - The Stormwater District program is up and running and very successful, with more than 20 sub-divisions throughout the County particpating. The Homeowner Associations Resolving Problems (HARP) group continues to work with Commissioners and Legislators to affect more ordinances and laws that protect all homeowners living in an HOA run development.   2020 - Kent County Commissioners have taken a stronger view of supporting HOA Deed Restrictions that contradict Kent County Code.  If the development has a stronger restriction, it is likely taken into consideration.


Customer Service -  County employees are like any other human, subject to bad days.  When it comes to working with the public, we will strive to resolve the resident's problem and to have them leave with a feeling that we did everything we could do to help them.

 

Permit Application Approval Times -  Some Permits are just nonsense.  We are working to decrease the permit reasons for appearing in front of a Committee or the Levy Court, allowing for desk approvals by the Director of Planning if all conditions are met and there is no opposition from neighbors.2020 - Levy Court approved an additional appeal process, at no cost to the applicant, to appeal Planning Department decisions that are contradictory to County Code.

 

Property Rights - Homeowners have a right to be able to do what they want with their property, as long as it does not interfere with a neighbor, potentially devalue a neighbor or development's value, or create an unsafe condition. 

 

Dog Control - Kent County Levy Court, after a long and contentious negotiation with the Kent County SPCA, has decided to end our relationship with the SPCA and to seek a temporary relationship with Safe Haven, a shelter in Georgetown.  Safe Haven will be looking to partner with a local shelter in the County to provide for ease of residents seeking to be reunited with their dog.  I am hopeful that the State will reconsider the current animal control system and take all services back to the State. In 2016 - I am happy to say that Kent County Levy Court is no longer responsible for Dog Control. The State Office of Animal Welfare has taken over this responsibility, hiring Animal Control Officers, providing the correct training and proper supervision, to improve Dog Control services for Kent County and the whole State.  2020 - Kent County, while not responsible for Animal Control, continues to fund animal control since 2009.  The funding amount has been adjusted to a more fair representation of the county's animal population.

 

 

     

   2016 issues:


State Budget - As the State Legislature looks to balance their budget, I am a constant fighter for them to look within to fund areas to cut, instead of looking to divert expenses to the county. UPDATE: As of Oct 1, 2016, the State Budget is short $163,000,000. We cannot allow the State Legislators to balance their budget on the backs of the Counties.

 

Kent County Comptroller - I have been working with State Legislators to eliminate the elected office of Comptroller for Kent County to save County taxpayers more than $150,000 per year. This is an obsolete position and the duties are completely redundant and no longer needed. The current sitting Comptroller, Georgette Williams, is completely in agreement. UPDATE: In 2016, the Legislature has removed the Comptroller as an elected office, saving the County and its taxpayers nearly $150,000 per year.

 

Home Owner Associations - As of the mid-1990's, Kent County and the State of Delaware requires the creation of a homeowner-owned association to manage open space and snow removal. Because these organizations are usually started by the developer, they are often managed only be the developer with little to know accountability to the homeowners. This is an area where I have committed a lot of my time to resolve issue by forcing the developer to notify the homeowners when and why changes are necessary, and to follow through on committments made when selling property in their developments. When the HOA is turned over to the homeowners, the board all too often has problems in getting the annual fees, and Levy Court has made it easier for the board to take action to settle those fees. Next, I will work on the enforcement of HOA Deeds and Restrictions. 2020 - Kent County Commissioners have taken a stronger view of supporting HOA Deed Restrictions that contradict Kent County Code.  If the development has a stronger restriction, it is likely taken into consideration.



2020 issues:

Kent County Hotel Occupancy Tax - As a Levy Court Commissioner, I am committed to accounting for every dollar that is collected as a tax from those who live, work, play in or travel through Kent County.  When the Hotel Occupancy Tax was discussed, I was committed to finding ways to support the Kent County Regional Sports Facility (DE Turf).  Too many questions were raised concerning the collection of a tax for a single non-profit entity, operational expenses for DE Turf, and how the money was legislated to be spent by DE Turf.  I asked for and received a public meeting, held at Polytech High School and attended by  moe than 100 residents, who heard a presentation of the DE Turf's plans.  Many questions were raised, leading to the Legislation not being considered by Levy Court, and the potential to have the bill stricken from Delaware Code in the upcoming General Assembly. I am still committed to working with DE Turf to find ways to make them successful, as they are one of the best economic drivers in Kent County in history.


Economic Growth - All families would like their children to find good paying jobs near their family home.  Levy Court is making that a reality with three areas of economic growth approved in the last eight years.  The first is the DAFB Aeropark expansion, which will provide for commercial air transport companies to land at DAFB, use a separate tarmac from the military to offload and onload packages, or to simply park their planes for overnight stays, instead of having to relocate to a much more expensive airport in New Jersey or New York.

The second and third are the South Fredierica and Little Heaven Planning Areas, providing for commercial (non-retail) and light industrical growth.  These areas will bring higher paying jobs to the area, keeping our trades and college education children in the area.


Residential Growth - Working with municipalities to adopt construction ordinances similar to the Kent County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances.  The APFO's provide funding for schools, roads, emergency services, and sewer/water infrastructure, based on new construction.  When a home is built, the developer pays into a fund that helps those services cover the increase in need.