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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Commissioners vote to oppose state consumer legislation

  • Kent County’s Levy Court commissioners have gone on record as opposing a piece of state legislation they say could adversely affect how the county collects on its debts.
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  • Kent County’s Levy Court commissioners have gone on record as opposing a piece of state legislation they say could adversely affect how the county collects on its debts.
    The seven commissioners took the unanimous stand during their business meeting of April 15.
    House Bill 230, known as the Family Financial Protection Act, was introduced Jan. 23 and assigned to the Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee. The bill is designed to provide consumers in Delaware with greater protection against some tactics employed by debt collection agencies and other creditors.
    After learning of the legislation, the bill was reviewed by county attorney William W. Pepper Sr. and other legal experts, who raised the red flag, said County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange.
    In a letter to commissioners, Petit de Mange said the attorneys had determined that as written, the legislation could prevent the county from using well-established procedures, known as monitions sales, to collect money overdue debts.
    Under Delaware law, the county is permitted, with proper notification, to seize and sell property in an effort to collect outstanding debts. One chapter under Delaware Code, Title 9, permits this action to resolve unpaid bills owed to water utilities or for wastewater treatment services.
    A separate chapter allows monition sales to collect delinquent property taxes.
    In discussing HB 230, commissioners decided to oppose the bill unless changes are made or unless county government is specifically exempted from its provisions.
    Commissioners took the action even while acknowledging recent communiques from a number of legislators that HB 230 stands little chance of getting out of committee.
    Commissioner Eric Buckson said he’d already spoken with Sen. Karen Peterson, (D-Stanton), about the bill’s prospects.
    Even though she is a sponsor of HB 230, Peterson, “. . . made a very clear and understandable statement the bill is going nowhere.
    “It is fraught with problems and is not going to be resurrected,” Buckson reported.
    “This is the type of communication the House committee expects from the county government if we want to have our voice heard,” Petit de Mange told the group. “If this bill doesn’t move, then this resolution will stay here.
    “If it does move, we will deliver it.”
    In other actions, commissioners set up public hearings to be held at their Tuesday, April 29 meeting, to include a proposed sewer extension for the Cypress Branch area, Hilltop Mobile Home Park and for a review of the county’s annual FY 2015 operating budget.
    All meetings take place at 7 p.m. in the Kent County Administrative Complex at 555 Bay Road, Dover.

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