Milford Schools propose tax decrease for 7th straight year

Jarek Rutz

Residents in the Milford School District could have yet another tax decrease next year, which would be the seventh straight year the district has approved a decrease.

Sara Hale, chief operating officer of the district, presented school tax rate data to the district’s school board Monday reflecting a tax decrease of .6% for next year.

Most notably, the district is already financially set to complete its Milford Middle School Project with no additional revenue needed from district residents.

This tax rate provides revenue to cover operating costs for the district. This includes teaching materials, textbooks, technology, insurance, athletic and academic programs, local salary expenditures, and more.

A tax rate increase cannot be approved without allowing residents to vote through a referendum. Since the proposal is to decrease taxes, the school board must take a vote to make it official.

Milford’s board will vote on the proposal at its July 10 meeting. The district spans parts of both Kent and Sussex counties.

In addition to a debt service plan that has been in place for many years in an effort to reduce the tax rate of this project, Milford has also seen a significant increase in housing growth and subsequent growth in property assessment, the district stated in a news release.

“You can take a drive around our district and see the continued growth. What people may not realize is that growth provides additional revenues,” said Bridget Amory, interim superintendent. “We are committed to utilizing our foundation of fiscal stability to fulfill our newly established mission and vision.”

Proposed tax decrease for Milford School District residents.

Proposed tax decrease for Milford School District residents.

The ongoing property reassessment process going on in each of Delaware’s three counties  – expected to be completed by the end of 2025 – does not impact this year’s tax rate.

The Milford Middle School Project, which is a primary goal of the district’s new Strategic Plan, is designed to create an innovative and modern learning environment for 1,000 students in grades 5 and 6.

“We were fortunate to receive support from our community to move forward with the Milford Middle School project,” Hale said, “and we are ecstatic to be able to fund the building without impacting our current school tax rates or receiving additional contributions from our community.”

Here is the timeline of the Milford Middle School Project, which is expected to be completed by fall 2025:

Milford Middle project timeline.

Milford Middle project timeline.

A 2021 referendum was approved with 67% of voters in favor of the Milford School District seeking $14,890,318  in bonds to restore and revitalize the Milford Middle School property.

“Two years ago, the community voted for a property tax increase in order to fulfill a need for the good of the district and the children in it by approving the construction of the new Milford Middle School,” said board member Matt Bucher. “Under the financial leadership of Dr. Sara Hale, the Milford School District is doing something that has to be singular in Delaware public school planning and finance.”

Despite the fact that the biggest hump in the debt service for the new Middle School is this year, Bucher said years of planning by Hale has enabled the district to fully finance this year’s debt service with a decrease in school property taxes. 

“They should put her picture on the wall at Legislative Hall,” he said, half-joking. 

Bucher also cited the fact that Kent County just voted to raise taxes, the city of Milford has an increase on the table, and the state of Delaware has an income tax increase on the ready list in the state legislature. 

“And beyond all those additional taxes, we’ve got reassessment looming in the near future, so it’s refreshing to hear your report, Dr. Hale, that for the seventh year in a row, and in the face of the debt service for a new school, you’re reporting a rate decrease,” he said. “The next time the Milford School District has a need, the community will remember the conservative, results-based financial leadership you’ve demonstrated.”

For updates on the Milford Middle School Project click here:

Share this Post