Sussex County Council taxpayers got good news at the Nov. 19 county council meeting.
Building-related revenue in the first quarter of the fiscal year is up 22 percent compared over last fiscal year. Fueling the increase, building permits increased 33 percent, from 535 permits in 2012 to 710 permits so far this year.
First-quarter, building-related revenue has been increasing for two fiscal years since 2012, said Sussex County Finance Director Gina Jennings. Revenues are up $2.3 million, from $5.2 million in fiscal 2012 to $7.5 million in fiscal 2014.
Realty transfer taxes increased by almost $1.4 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2013.
In the county's fiscal 2014 budget, building-related revenue accounts for nearly half of the $50.1 million general fund budget. Realty transfer taxes – budgeted at $16 million – are the county's largest single source of income at 32 percent. Property taxes – budgeted at $13.6 including library taxes – account for 29 percent of the general fund budget.
Overall, Jennings said, Sussex County's financial report shows a surplus of $2 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2014.
Recorder of deeds income at $947,000 is up nearly 13 percent; building permit and zoning fees at $426,000 are up nearly 30 percent; and building inspection revenue at $405,000 is 89 percent over budget.
Home sales mirror county's increase
An increase in home sales parallels the county's increase in building-related revenue.
According to the Sussex County Association of Realtors, single-family home sales for July, August and September rose more than 21 percent over the same quarter last year – following a 22 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 – with the average three-bedroom home in the county selling for a median price of $248,008.
The data is the latest in a string of positive reports for SCAOR, which has now reported more than two years of strong real estate data pertaining in Sussex County.
“This is more great news for all of us, not only as Sussex County real estate professionals, but also as local residents,” says Bob McVey, 2013 SCAOR president. “As the real estate market goes, so goes the local economy. I think we’re getting that message perfectly clear right now here in Sussex County.”
Nearly 2,900 homes were sold in Sussex County through the end of September, selling at a 14- percent higher clip than during the third quarter of 2012.
Sales figures for two-bedroom homes have increased 12 percent, three-bedroom homes 4 percent and four-bedroom homes 7 percent during the first three quarters of the year, according to SCAOR.
More than $856 million in real estate has been sold through the first three quarters of 2013 in Sussex County in the single-family market, according to SCAOR. Additionally, more than $215 million has been generated in condominium or townhome sales, more than $15 million in mobile home sales and more than $52 million in sales of land.