House sends 5-year property reassessment bill to Senate

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

House voting on property

The House approved a bill requiring property be reassessed every five years.

Property value must be reassessed every five years, according to a bill passed by the Delaware House Thursday and sent along to the Senate.

House Bill 62, sponsored by Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, D-Newark, would require counties to reassess real property values at least once every five years, starting with the next reassessment. That hasn’t been done in New Castle County since 1983, in Kent County since 1987, and in Sussex County since 1974.

Wilson-Anton said that reassessments are being done in Delaware under a court order, and the bill will make sure that the state won’t have to be ordered again to do a reassessment.

House Minority Whip Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, said he would have preferred there be a rolling reassessment, rather than just one every five years.

“Say for example, 2008 reoccurs and there’s a dramatic reduction in property values,” Yearick said. “You may capture that based upon that five year cycle, whereas rolling reassessment, I think, mitigates some of the risk of that occurring.”

Yearick wanted to know who is going to pick up the tab.

“The state so graciously was paying for this one,” he said.

Wilson-Anton said the state is not picking up the tab, the three counties are and that county council members support the bill.

“I know New Castle County has made it revenue neutral. And so they’ve really picked up the tab there,” she said. Future reassessments would be a county responsibility to pay, she said.

Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, said he wouldn’t support the bill unless they wait for the results of the current reassessment first.

“Would it not make sense, and be the responsible thing to do, to see what the results of this current reassessment are? I mean, our citizens, our constituents are out there. Many of them are wondering what is this going to do to me, and I can’t begin to tell them on any individual basis,” Collins said. “So why would we pass a law when we have literally seven years to pass it to do whatever needs to be done?”

Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said he’s opposed to reassessment, but supports the bill because if they have to do a reassessment, they should do it every five years.

The bill, which doesn’t require a fiscal note, has 17 additional sponsors and cosponsors, with 15 Democrats and two Republicans.

The House also approved four other bills Thursday:

House Bill 118, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Odessa, which would create a civil citation for people who smoke in a car that also contains someone under the age 18, whether or not a window is open, passed 32 to 5. 

It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark, would make the Delaware code gender silent by removing all references to gender from future bills, and require revisers to correct several male only references. 

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for a signature.

House Bill 134, sponsored by Rep. Franklin Cooke, D-New Castle/Minquadale, would remove references to the word coroner from the Delaware code, as the state switched to an Office of Medical Examiner in 1969. 

The bill was unanimously approved and now heads to the Senate. 

House Bill 130, sponsored by Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, would change the definition of a state employee to include those working on a temporary basis, allowing them to qualify for the state pension plan.

The bill was unanimously approved and now heads to the Senate.

None of the four bills required a fiscal note.

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