Solid economy leveraging open space
Wonderful things happen when the economy is chugging along, and state and local governments have tax revenues to take care of more than just short-term needs.
That’s the case since Sussex County Council adopted its budget and Delaware’s General Assembly did the same for the fiscal year that began July 1. Both entities were able to finance essential government functions including social programs, education, law enforcement and environmental protection. Beyond that, Sussex and the state also invested in and budgeted for two areas that are and should be near and dear to the hearts of all Sussex Countians: open space and farmland preservation.
Sussex County Council allocated more than $1 million to be matched by the state to buy permanent development rights for eight farms in Sussex.
The state also announced it spent another $10 million to permanently preserve dozens of other farms across Sussex County. The state’s budget for the new fiscal year includes another $10 million for farmland preservation. It has also budgeted $10 million for preservation of notable open spaces available for public recreation.
Delaware leads the nation in percentage of farmland in permanent preservation. It is also blessed – through the foresight of previous generations – with significant public open spaces to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Those preservation efforts, now more than ever, are important to maintain an enjoyable quality of life and for preserving property values.
Investments in farmland and open space preservation also reduce public investments needed to otherwise support infrastructure for commercial and residential development.
Given rapid development in Sussex, county council should be doubling its partnering contributions to the state to preserve more land to at least slow increasing congestion. The county’s budget is fat because of accelerating building-related revenue.
More of those dollars should be leveraged for open space and farmland preservation while there is still land to be preserved.