Kent Levy Court supports two resolutions needed to construct Dover Mall access road

DOVER — Kent County Levy Court commissioners approved two resolutions Tuesday night supporting draft legislation to enable tax increment financing and special development districts in the county.

The resolutions were requested at last Tuesday’s Levy Court meeting by John Paradee, a lawyer who represents the mall’s owners, Simon Property Group and Western Development Corp.

Mr. Paradee made a presentation to the court last week on a financing plan that he says will pay for a direct-access road from Del. 1 to the Dover Mall. The access road will not only protect the mall’s future, but will help it double in size, he told the commissioners.

The estimated cost of the project is $31 million.

Mr. Paradee said last week he hopes toll funds on the proposed direct-access road would cover the majority of the work, but if they don’t, tax increment financing would be available.

Tax increment financing would enable the difference between the current tax assessment and the assessment after the improvements — millions, in this case — to be used to pay off bonds used to construct the road.

Currently, only Wilmington is allowed to use tax increment financing. That means the General Assembly would have to approve legislation specifically authorizing Dover and Kent County. The resolutions approved on Tuesday are the county’s assent to the proposal.

“These resolutions express Levy Court’s support for the draft legislation,” said County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange. “Mr. Paradee was basically saying he needed these resolution to sort of get legislative support to introduce the bills. Both bills would amend the county’s enabling law.”

Mr. Petit de Mange explained that enabling laws affect how bonds can be issued.

“These would allow for something called a revenue bond, where bond debt is satisfied through revenue generated from tolls in this case,” he said.
“The other kind of bond a county can issue is a general obligation bond. That’s where the full faith and credit of the county is at risk and basically the tax payers are paying the bill. We wouldn’t do those kinds of bonds for this type of project.”

For now, the proposed direct-access road and associated draft legislation moves forward with the county’s support. Mr. Paradee said last week that his next conversation will be with the city.

“We will be asking the city of Dover to authorize similar legislation for the city (on Feb. 14) and we also would expect to have conversations with the Capital School District to ensure that they would be comfortable following along with this process,” Mr. Paradee said at the time.

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