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RG #6035

 

The Farmington School
RG 8005-000-015-228P: The Farmington School

The 1800s

In 1855, Governor William Tharp, a Treasurer of the Delaware Railroad, was instrumental in having a railroad station built near his home to serve the southern Kent County farming community. A town formed here which was initially called Flat Iron, but within ten years, the name was changed to Farmington. To assist in preserving the agricultural products prior to shipping, canning and fruit evaporating plants were built, and the presence of these factories caused the population to increase to its high of 500 just before the end of the nineteenth century. When these plants closed, the number of Town residents decreased to just over 100 where it remains today.  

 

1900 – 1949

The Town of Farmington was first incorporated in 1909 as the “Commissioners of the Town of Farmington.” The Town’s boundaries were specified in the Incorporating Act and formed a parallelogram around the intersection of the railroad line with a public road which led to the community of Vernon. Five Commissioners, who had resided in the Town for at least a year, were to be elected to serve two-year, staggered terms. Voters were males over 21 who had paid their taxes. The Commission was to meet four times yearly, presided over by one of their members who was elected President. The President was also to oversee the streets of the Town and serve as the supervisor of any Town employees as well as receive complaints of nuisances and violations of Town ordinances. Town officials included a Tax Collector and Treasurer, who could be the same person, an Alderman, an Assessor, a Clerk, and a Constable. The powers vested in the Town’s Commissioners included passing ordinances for the good government of the Town, improving the streets, paving the sidewalks, protecting ornamental trees, repairing and making public pumps, and attending to all other matters related to the welfare of the Town. Kent County was to provide $200 yearly to assist with street maintenance and owners of property were to pay the costs of laying sidewalks on the property adjacent to the street. The Commissioners were given full control of the ditches and gutters and all ditch companies were prohibited from taxing individual residents of the Town. Among the duties of the Alderman and Constable were suppressing riotous, turbulent, disorderly or noisy assemblages or gatherings of persons in or at any building used for any fair, festival, concert or any social, literary or religious meeting, or in the streets or lanes of the Town at any time, and to prevent all gatherings which may obstruct or interfere with the free use of the streets or sidewalks. The amount of taxes to be levied yearly was to be not more than $300; this included the tax on real and personal property and the per capita tax which was to be not more than fifty cents imposed on all males over the age of 21. Vacant lots of over one acre were exempt from taxation unless they had a house in which case they would be taxed as one lot. Machinery in a factory was not to be taxed although the real estate and buildings were taxable. The Commissioners did not have the authority to incur debt on the Town greater than the amount it was to receive in taxes.1

Ten years after its incorporation, the first amendment to the 1909 Incorporating Act was actually just a technical clarification.2 In 1923, a law revised the 1909 Act to indicate that the per capita tax was to be at least $1 but less than $2; it also indicated that the tax was to be levied on all citizens.3 In 1931, the time of elections for Commissioner was changed from day to evening.4

 

1950 – Present Day

In 1955, the maximum annual amount of taxation was increased from $300 to $3,000, and that only male citizens were to be charged the per capita tax suggesting the 1923 law may have contained an error, omitting the word “male.”In 1998, the Town of Farmington was re-incorporated and a Charter was vested in the name of the “Town of Farmington.” The territorial limits of the Town had not changed since 1909, but the Town is now empowered to annex land if so petitioned by property owners or resolved by the Town Council; specific procedures for annexation are outlined in the 1998 Act. The government of the Town was vested in a Town Council consisting of five members who were to serve two-year, staggered terms, and which the Charter indicated were to meet regularly but did not specify how often. The presiding member of the Town Council was to have the title of Mayor but remained able to vote on all matters before the Council. Other Town officials drawn from the Council included a Vice-Mayor and a Secretary-Treasurer. Other Town officials were a Tax Collector and a Solicitor, and at their discretion, the Town Council could also appoint at Town Manager. This Charter indicated that the Town of Farmington was to have all powers which are possible for a municipal corporation but it enumerated forty-eight specific powers. The Charter contained more specific procedures for laying out streets and their paving and guttering, for drainage and water systems, and for the review of land development. The Charter provided the Town of Farmington with the option of accepting the tax assessment of Kent County, or of appointing a three-member Board of Assessment. The amount to be raised annually in all taxes, including property taxes, taxes on utility fixes and special taxes imposed in connection with municipal bonds, was to be no more than 3% of the total assessed value of all taxable real estate and improvements; the capitation tax was not to exceed $10. The Town was now authorized to borrow money. Short-term borrowing, without voter approval was not to exceed $5,000 in aggregate and must be repaid in five years. Long term borrowing for a specific public purpose required referendum approval and was not to exceed, in aggregate, 10% of the assessed value of real property within the Town.6

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see http://www.charters.delaware.gov/farmington.shtml


CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 25 Del. Laws, c. 194 (1909) [pp. 375-82]

2 30 Del. Laws, c. 140 (1919) [p. 318]

3 33 Del. Laws, c. 140 (1923) [pp. 403-404]

4 37 Del. Laws, c. 153 (1931) [pp. 527]

5 50 Del. Laws, c. 6 (1955) [pp. 13-14]

6 71 Del. Laws, c. 433 (1998) [pp. 1289-1323]

Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/

 

jnl / April 5, 2019


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