Delaware’s smallest town has a big problem.
Hartly, with a population of 74, has no functioning government. There’s no one to pay the bills, collect taxes, enforce codes, or apply for state aid.
Taxes for Delaware’s tiniest incorporated town haven’t been collected in at least two years and the town is thousands of dollars in debt. How much, exactly, is anybody’s guess.
The situation has left it in a precarious position with only two clear options: reform the government, which may not even be possible, or dissolve the charter and get swallowed up by Kent County.
Part of that debt was incurred by extralegal means:
Much of the town’s debt could be repaid if former Hartly treasurer Richard Casson Jr. repaid his debts to the town. Casson was sentenced to one year in jail in 2004 for embezzling $89,000 over a three-year period. Part of the sentencing required him to repay the town. To date, he’s only reimbursed $5,390, according to the state prosecutor’s office.
I’m wondering if this statistic might mean something:
The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 81.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 59.4 males.
This is tantalizingly close to Jan Berry’s desired ratio. Unfortunately, Hartly is hard by the Maryland border, away from the ocean, so there’s no surfing.