Cape decreases school tax rate

Assessed value of homes increased
July 27, 2020

Cape Henlopen school board voted unanimously July 9 to approve a 3.98 tax rate for the 2021 fiscal year, a decrease of .01 from last year.

Director of Business Operations Oliver Gumbs said the decrease was possible because assessed value of homes increased by 3.24 percent this year.

Under the new tax rate, homeowners will pay $.0398 per $100 in assessed value of their homes; the average tax per household is $1,038, Gumbs said.

Each penny of property tax generates about $134,000 for the district, according to the tax rate proposal. The increased tax base will provide almost $780,000 in current operations revenue.

Sussex County properties have not been assessed since 1974; assessed values are based on construction costs in 1974 and are not related to current market values. 

The local cost for students attending residential schools outside the district remained the same. At $100,000 per student, Cape will pay $500,000 in tuition for five students to attend residential schools such as Benedictine School and Bellweather Behavioral Health, formerly Advoserv. 

Costs decreased for Cape students enrolled in out-of-district alternative schools and schools for children with disabilities.

While the number of students projected to attend Howard T. Ennis School remained the same as last year at 15, tuition decreased from $35,000 per student in 2020 to $28,000 per student in 2021; the overall cost decreased from $525,000 in 2020 to $420,000 in 2021. 

The cost for 85 Sussex County Opportunity Program in Education students at $2,900 a student is $246,500, with an additional $90,000 paid for transportation. In 2020, 100 students attended SCOPE at $2,500 a student for a total of $250,000, with transportation costs remaining the same as last year.

With slightly more students projected to enroll in Academic Challenge courses at Delaware Technical Community College, costs also increased. At $1,100 per student, the cost is $297,000 for 270 students; an additional $20,250 provides transportation. In 2020, 250 students were enrolled in Academic Challenge for a cost of $275,000 with an additional $37,500 in transportation costs.

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