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RG# 6090

 

Kenton
RG 9015-028-000: Post Office, Kenton

At the intersection of the road from Dover to the upper eastern shore of Maryland with the road leading from Smyrna to the lower eastern shore, a village formed in the late eighteenth century when a man named Phillip Lewis began to lay out town lots. By 1806, the village, which had been called Lewistown, was given the name Kenton. It became a small commercial center providing support to the surrounding farms, and when a rail line was laid between Clayton and Maryland in the latter half of the nineteenth century, farmers could more readily ship their crops to market. However, to this day it remains a very small community.  

 

The 1800s

Kenton was incorporated in 1887 by the corporate name “Commissioners of the Town of Kenton.” The Incorporating Act defined the limits of the Town which were centered on the intersection of Main and Commerce Streets. There were to be five Commissioners elected by male voters above the age of 21 who were current in paying their taxes. The Commissioners were to serve one-year terms and were to meet four times yearly. They were to choose a President from among their number to preside at the meetings and oversee the government within the Town, as well as a Clerk to keep Town records. There was also to be an Alderman and Constables charged with keeping the peace, and a Treasurer, an Assessor and a Tax Collector. The Commissioners were given the authority to regulate the streets and lighting, to remove nuisances, to examine houses for possible fire hazards, to prohibit the firing of guns and the making of bonfires, and to preserve the peace. They could improve the streets and sidewalks, provide lighting for the streets, plant ornamental trees, make and repair public pumps, and provide for the general welfare of the Town. An assessment was to be made of all real estate with the maximum tax to be levied annually of no more than $100. A per capita tax of at least twenty-five cents was to be assessed of all male citizens over 21 years of age. Kent County was to provide assistance in maintaining the streets by allocating the Town $50 annually.1

The 1887 Incorporating Act would remain in force for over 100 years. It was amended only a few times over that period. The first amendment came in 1891 when a law was passed to clarify that the Commissioners had the power to locate and lay out new streets and to compensate landowners impacted by this action. It also increased the maximum annual assessment to $200 and provided for taxing dog owners $1 for each of their dogs.2

 

1900 – 1949

A 1905 amendment to the Incorporating Act allowed the Commissioners of the Town of Kenton to sue property owners who were delinquent in paying their taxes.3 In 1913, the annual maximum assessment of the Town was increased again to $500. In addition, the Commissioners were given authority to issue municipal bonds up to $5,000 to provide for the improvement of the Town with no referendum approval required. In another law, the Levy Court of Kent County was required to increase their annual allocation towards road maintenance to $200 for a period of two years.4 Another increase in the amount of taxes to be levied annually was made in 1923, to $1,500.5 In 1925, the section of the 1887 Incorporating Act on regulating the streets which had been revised in 1891 was totally replaced. Another law provided for females to vote in Town elections.6 The last amendment to the 1887 Incorporating Act was passed in 1933 at which time the limits of the Town were expanded.7  

 

1950 – Current

In 1991, Kenton was re-incorporated and provided with a Charter in the name of the “Town of Kenton.” The limits of the Town are not included in the Charter but a reference is made to a map at the Kent County Recorder of Deeds. The Charter makes provision to annex new territory into the Town’s boundaries. The government of the Town is now vested in a five-member Town Council, each serving a two-year term. Elections are held in February with all those over eighteen eligible to vote. Election procedures are outlined in the Charter. The Town Council meets monthly. They choose from their members, a Mayor, a Vice-Mayor and a Secretary. The Mayor presides at Council meetings and serves as the head of the Town government. Other elected Town officials are a Town Treasurer and an Assessor. Appointed officials include a Town Manager, who serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town, a Chief of Police, and a Deputy Treasurer. The Charter provides the Town Council with all those powers possible for a municipal corporation and enumerates thirty-six specific powers. Some of these are: condemn property for public purposes, acquire, construct, improve, or demolish property for public purposes, regulate and maintain the streets or enter into contracts with the State of Delaware to do so, establish and regulate pounds and to impound animals, grant franchises or licenses to companies when in the best interest of the Town, control the care of ornamental shade trees, clean up lots which are deemed dangerous to the public welfare, regulate and control the manner of building and condemnation of buildings in order to prevent fires and preserve the beauty of the Town, provide for the organization of a fire department, levy and collect taxes and fees, establish a pension plan and a health plan for employees of the Town, charge a realty transfer tax, erect and maintain an electric plant, provide the Town with ample pure water, and construct and maintain a sewer system. The Town’s Assessor is charged with inspecting a taxable real property and providing an assessment. The maximum amount which can be levied in taxes annually may not exceed 1% of the total assessed value of all real estate subject to taxation. Manufacturers employing six employees or more may be exempted from taxation as may those companies which provide water, gas, or electric current.8

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


CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 18 Del. Laws, c. 176 (1887) [pp. 330-37]

2 19 Del. Laws, c. 236 (1891) [pp. 471-73]

3 22 Del. Laws, c. 180 (1905) [pp. 309-10]

4 27 Del. Laws, c. 230 and c. 231 (1913) [pp. 660-62 and p. 663]

5 33 Del. Laws, c. 132 (1923) [p. 388]

6 34 Del. Laws, c. 131 and c. 132 (1925) [pp. 236-37 and p. 338]

7 38 Del. Laws, c. 104 (1933) [pp. 437-38]

8 68 Del. Laws, c. 324 (1992) [pp. 1099-1125]

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


RECORDS at DPA


Town of Kenton records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Minutes of the Commissioners/Town Council (1898-1987): 6090-000-001

 

jnl / August 17, 2018 | April 23, 2019


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