Cape Henlopen's referendum has failed.

Cape Henlopen referendum fails, unofficial results show

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Cape Henlopen's referendum has failed.

Cape Henlopen’s referendum has failed.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The residents of Cape Henlopen School District have voted down a referendum to raise local taxes in order to generate more local revenue for the district’s operations.

“While the result is not what we wanted, we intend to move forward with a positive outlook,” said Superintendent Bob Fulton. “Over the next few weeks our team will work together to determine what our next steps will be.”

The district was hoping to raise $83,647,000 of additional local revenue, which would increase the average homeowner’s tax bill by $153.75 more a year, or $12.81 a month.

The extra money would have helped the district with operational needs like personnel costs, facility costs and more.

It also would have helped the district in its attempt to purchase land in order to accommodate rapid population growth over the past few years.

The district is able to have a second attempt at the referendum, and the date of that will likely be decided in the upcoming weeks.

The final vote count has yet to be published by the Department of Elections, but the district announced the unsuccessful referendum on its Facebook page.

The final vote count was 7,887 total votes: 3,613 “yes” (45.8%) and 4,274 “no” (54.2%).

Cape Henlopen 6th district to hold tax hike vote; March 26

Originally published February 6

Cape Henlopen's referendum will be on Tuesday, March 26.

Cape Henlopen’s referendum will be on Tuesday, March 26.

Cape Henlopen School District is the sixth district in Delaware to have a referendum this year in which residents will vote whether or not to raise local taxes.

In total, the district is seeking a total of $83,647,000 of additional local revenue.

This year’s referendum will take place Tuesday, March 26, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

READ: 5 school districts to hold tax hike referenda in 2024

The district states it is a debt service and operating expense referendum to propose a new tax rate as a way to generate local revenue.

“The revenue generated from the approved tax increase will help the District address expenditures due to the increasing enrollment,” read a statement. “Enrollment issues continue to be the main reason more funds are needed.”

Cape Henlopen School District enrollment has grown from 4,150 students in 2001 to 6,587 this school year, and population studies show that the enrollment will continue to increase significantly over the next 10 years.

The last three referendums in the district were all successful, in 2014, 2016 and 2018, which collectively increased the tax rate by 37 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Cape Henlopen has the second-lowest annual property tax rates in Sussex County with $4.0282 per $100 of value. Only Indian River residents pay less.

If passed, the impact on the average homeowner would be $153.75 more a year, or $12.81 a month.

Some of the main budget concerns the district has are:

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The district has stated that land purchase for future expansion is its top priority, which includes a district office relocation so that the high school can expand. It is looking to purchase up to 102.429 acres.

Cape Henlopen is also trying to muster up more local revenue to its natatorium (swimming complex), bus maintenance facility and yard, and site additions and renovations at the high school.

It states that land is very difficult to obtain in the area, and the district has sent out 16 letters of interest and only received a single response for land purchase.

The land has a cost estimate of $15,555,438.

It will host three community meetings on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Love Creek Elementary’s media center at 6 p.m.; Monday, March 11 at Milton Elementary’s auditorium at 6 p.m.; and Monday, March 18 at Lewes Elementary School’s auditorium at 6 p.m.

Efforts to reach the district Tuesday to comment were unsuccessful, but details of the referendum are likely to be discussed at its monthly school board meeting Thursday at 6 p.m.

Other referenda in 2024

Click on the district’s name to be redirected to its pages with referendum resources and information:

Brandywine School District: Tuesday, Feb. 13 (operating referendum); seeking $15,625,549 in local funds.


Red Clay Consolidated School District: Wednesday, Feb. 28 (operating and capital referendum); seeking $155,206,652 in local funds, already approved $192,309,961 in state-matching funds.


Colonial School District: Thursday, Feb. 29 (operating and capital referendum); seeking $61 million in local funds, already approved $122 million in state funds.


Smyrna School District: Saturday, March 9 (operating and capital referendum); seeking $29,527,860 in local funds, already approved $98,854,141 in state-matching funds.


Appoquinimink School District: Failed Dec. 12; Second referendum to be held Tuesday, April 23 (operating and capital referendum); seeking $82,903,639 in local funds, already approved $223,177,971 in state-matching funds.

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