Controversial Statewide Property Tax Proposed for Del Tech Off t - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Controversial Delaware Property Tax Proposed for Del Tech Off the Table

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DelTech, which will offer a bachelor's in nursing degree beginning January 2017. (Photo: DTCC) DelTech, which will offer a bachelor's in nursing degree beginning January 2017. (Photo: DTCC)

DOVER, Del.- A controversial proposal allowing Delaware Technical and Community College to tax property owners to fund maintenance and repairs at the school's campuses around the state is no longer being pursued by its chief supporters.

Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North) said in a statement Friday that he will not bring Senate Bill 50 to the floor of the state Senate for a full vote. The legislation would allow Delaware Technical and Community College to implement a property tax in all three counties to help pay for deferred maintenance that school officials say will cost roughly $100 million to address.

The proposal garnered intense criticism from some lawmakers and members of the public. McDowell said a campaign of misinformation had been waged over the bill in recent weeks while the legislature has been on break for Joint Finance Committee budget hearings.

“I believe Senate Bill 50 offers a practical solution to that problem at a minimal cost to taxpayers. I would encourage my colleagues, particularly those who criticized SB 50, to offer their own suggestions," he said.

The move was prompted by a request from Del Tech president Mark Brainard to hold the bill from a floor vote. The legislation had been advanced by a committee and was at one point scheduled for a vote on the last session day before the break for budget hearings.

In a memo obtained by WBOC, Brainard said he had asked lawmakers backing the bill to stand down.

"Delaware Tech will remain laser focused on our mission - connecting Delawareans with high-quality jobs in our communities - and we will continue working with our supporters in the weeks ahead to develop a creative solution to our impending $100 million deferred maintenance crisis," he said.

Some lawmakers have already floated the idea of alternative legislation to assist Del Tech.

Rep. Kevin Hensley (R-Townsend) said he is drafting legislation that would retain two aspects of SB 50: Creating a community college infrastructure fund to pay principal and interest on bonds that Del Tech would be authorized to issue.

The legislation would also provide a mechanism, but not an obligation, for the state to provide matching funds for minor capital improvement projects consistent with existing matching provisions for public education, according to Hensley.

"I feel strongly that Del Tech ought to have the ability to address their capital needs without putting the burden of paying for those improvements on the backs of Delaware taxpayers," he said.

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