Cape referendum: Get informed and then vote

March 10, 2020

Cape Henlopen School District officials have set a referendum for Tuesday, March 31. All district residents age 18 and older are eligible to vote.

School officials are asking approval of a tax increase of 25 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, which would raise an average homeowner’s taxes by about $64 a year while generating an additional $3 million in local school funds. 

Unlike referendums in 2014, 2016 and 2018, which paid the district’s local share for five new elementary schools, additions to existing middle schools and a not-yet-built middle school in Lewes, this year’s referendum raises funds to operate district buildings.

About 70 percent of school funding comes from state coffers, but district taxpayers pay the remaining 30 percent. 

The problem, officials say, is the district welcomes about 200 new students per year. While that would indicate the district tax base is expanding, officials say the assessed value of all property in the district is growing about 3 percent per year – not fast enough to offset the local share of staffing and other operating costs.

To see the increase for an individual property, taxpayers can go to where there is a tax calculator.  There’s also a link for seniors who may qualify for tax relief.

The district scheduled three public meetings to present the referendum; residents may still attend the final one at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at H.O. Brittingham Elementary in Milton.

This referendum affects all district taxpayers. There’s still time for everyone to attend a meeting, ask questions and be informed before going to the polls March 31. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cape High, Mariner Middle and Rehoboth Elementary. 

This is an important vote, so get informed, go to the polls and vote.


  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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