CHAPTER 115 - TEMPORARY EMERGENCY RELIEF COMMISSION FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY

AN ACT TO RELIEVE THE PEOPLE OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY FROM THE HARDSHIPS AND SUFFERING CAUSED BY UNEMPLOYMENT, CREATING AND ORGANIZING FOR SUCH PURPOSE A TEMPORARY EMERGENCY RELIEF COMMISSION, PRESCRIBING ITS POWERS AND DUTIES, PROVIDING THE NECESSARY FUNDS THEREFOR, AND AUTHORIZING THE LEVY COURT OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY TO PERFORM WORK AS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING RELIEF HEREBY CONTEMPLATED.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. Declaration of Emergency:--That the public health and safety of the State, and of New Castle County, and each City and Town therein, are imperiled by the existing and threatened deprivation of a considerable number of their inhabitants of the necessaries of life, owing to the present economic depression and the long-continued abnormal degree of unemployment resulting therefrom. Such condition is hereby declared to be a matter of public concern, state and local, and the correction thereof to be a State, County, City and Town purpose, the consummation of which requires the furnishing of public aid to individuals. While the duty of providing aid for those in need, because of involuntary unemployment or for other reasons, is primarily an obligation of the local communities, nevertheless, it is the finding of the State that in the existing emergency the relief and assistance provided for by this Act are vitally necessary to supplement the relief work accomplished or to be accomplished locally and to encourage and stimulate local effort in the same direction. This Act, therefore, is declared to be a measure for the public health and safety and occasioned by an existing emergency. The provisions of any general, special or local law which are inconsistent with this Act or which limit or forbid the furnishing of such assistance as is provided by this Act to such persons as are permitted by this Act to receive the same shall not apply to the relief authorized by this Act.

Section 2. Definitions:--That as used in this Act, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this Section, viz:

"Commission" means the temporary county agency created by this Act, to be known as the Temporary Emergency Relief Commission for New Castle County:

"Work relief" means wages paid by or under the supervision of the Commission to persons who are needy and involuntarily unemployed or whose employment is inadequate to provide the necessaries of life for themselves and their dependents, from money appropriated by this Act or contributed under the provisions of this Act, for the performance of services or labor connected with work undertaken by or under the supervision of the Commission:

"Direct relief" means food, shelter, clothing, fuel, light and other absolute necessities furnished under the provisions of this Act, by or under the supervision of the Commission, to needy persons or their dependents in their abode or habitation whenever possible:

"Emergency period" means the period between the date of the enactment of this Act and the first day of April, A. D. 1937.

Section 3. Administrative Authority:--The administration of the emergency relief provided by this Act shall be vested in a nonpartisan temporary county agency, to be known as the Temporary Emergency Relief Commission for New Castle County, to consist of four members, who shall be known as relief directors, and who shall be appointed by the Governor of the State of Delaware from the citizens and residents of New Castle County. Any vacancy occurring for any cause in the said Commission shall be filled by appointment by the Governor of this State of a citizen and resident of New Castle County. The Commission shall organize immediately upon the appointment of its full membership by the election from its members of a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, and a Secretary-Treasurer, who shall perform the ordinary duties of said offices. It shall, at its meeting for organization, select a place within New Castle County for the establishment of its central office, and the Levy Court of New Castle, and/or the Public Building Commission for the City of Wilmington, and for New Castle County, is hereby authorized and empowered to assign to said Commission, without costs, such office or offices or other suitable available space in the Public Building in Wilmington. If no such space is available, the Commission may rent suitable space for a central office by a lease terminable on thirty days' notice, and said Commission shall have the authority to purchase or otherwise obtain such office furniture and supplies as may be necessary. The Commission may employ, and at pleasure remove, an assistant secretary and such other clerical assistance in the central office as it may deem necessary and may fix the compensation of all such employees. It shall be the duty of the Commission to establish an effective system of investigation and to employ a suitable number of investigators and checkers to detect impostors, and to prevent furnishing work relief or direct relief to those not eligible to receive it under this Act. But no relief director shall be held personally liable for impositions, or for the furnishing of work relief or direct relief to those not eligible to receive it, except such as may be due to his gross carelessness or wilful neglect in the performance of his duties. Each member of the Commission, before entering upon the duties of such office, shall take and subscribe the constitutional oath of office and file the same in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in and for New Castle County. The members of the Commission shall receive no compensation for their services hereunder but shall be allowed their actual and necessary traveling and other expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties. The Commission shall continue to function only during the emergency period, except that it may complete projects for furnishing work relief begun prior to the expiration of such period and may complete the accounting of its administration of the emergency relief provided by this Act.

Section 4. Nature of Relief Provided:--The emergency relief provided by this Act shall be confined to work relief and direct relief. No money shall be paid to any person for work relief except in the form of day's wages for day's work or hour's wages for hour's work. All work relief payable under this Act shall be inalienable by assignment or transfer and shall be exempt from levy and execution under the laws of this State.

Section 5:--Plans for Relief and Method of Providing Work Relief:--The Commission shall formulate plans for furnishing work relief and direct relief in said New Castle County. To provide work relief where needed, the Commission may undertake and complete any work of a public nature useful to be done either for the State, or any political sub-division or agency thereof, or any institution supported wholly or partly by the State, provided such work is not otherwise contemplated to be done, does not interfere or conflict with the duties of any other department, agency or political sub-division of the State, does not include the erection or reconstruction of, or any additions to any public buildings, and is consented to by the governing authority of any political sub-division of the State whose consent is necessary to be obtained. Any such work undertaken by the Commission must be of a character that will require a high percentage of wage cost to total cost and will require exclusively hand labor so nearly as possible. To provide such work, the Commission may become a sub-contractor or an assignee of a general highway contractor within this State, and, to perform such work, may act in either such capacity even though such sub-contract or assignment will result in a loss to the Commission. All money received by the Commission from any such subcontract or assignment shall be deposited in the county treasury and shall be considered and disposed of as a part of the money appropriated by this Act.

Section 6. City or Town Committee:--The Commission shall have the authority, if it deems advisable, to organize in any city, town or community in New Castle County, local or citizens' relief committees, to assist said Commission in the determination of those persons eligible to relief and the furnishing of relief thereto as herein provided.

Section 7. Eligibility for Relief. In furnishing work relief and/or direct relief under this Act no discrimination shall be made against any applicant on the grounds of race, color, religious belief, or political affiliations. No such relief shall be furnished except to persons who are in actual need and who are involuntarily out of employment, yet capable and willing to work, or whose employment is not sufficiently remunerative to provide the necessaries of life for themselves and their dependents, and who have been residents of New Castle County for at least one year immediately prior to their applications for relief. The following classes of persons shall not be eligible for relief under this Act, viz.,--those who receive old age pensions from the State; those who receive Mothers' Aid from the State; those who are listed in the State Tax Office as physically or mentally incapacitated from earning a living; those who are incapable of undertaking any regular work; those who have never been regularly employed and have been in whole or in part charges upon the community; those who are provided for by law, private charity or otherwise.

Section 8. Rules:--The Commission shall make and enforce rules, in accordance and consonance with the provisions of this Act, which will best promote the efficiency and effectiveness of the relief which this Act is intended to furnish.. None of the money appropriated or provided for by this Act shall be expended or allowed except in accordance with such rules. A certified copy of such rules shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of the Peace for New Castle County, a copy shall be posted on the bulletin board in the Public Building in Wilmington, and posted at least in five other public places in New Castle County, and the rules shall be published two times in daily newspaper published in and having a general circulation throughout said County. The rules so made, certified, filed, posted and published shall have the force and effect of law.

Section 9. Relating to the Furnishing of Relief: - For the purpose of furnishing work relief where needed, the commission shall be empowered to purchase, or authorize the purchase, of all such tools, materials and/or supplies as may be necessary for the completion of the work undertaken by the Commission and, whenever deemed necessary, to provide compensation insurance for persons employed. Upon the termination of the emergency period and the completion of all work undertaken by the Commission for the purpose of furnishing work relief under the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall deliver all tools acquired hereunder and all unused materials and supplies to the County Engineer of New Castle County for use by the Engineering Department. In purchasing such tools, materials and/or supplies, as well as in purchasing or authorizing the purchase, by orders issued for that purpose or otherwise, of goods, wares, merchandise or other commodities or services for the purpose of furnishing direct relief, the Commission shall, insofar as practicable, make purchases from merchants of this State and confine its purchases to products of this State. In furnishing work relief the wages shall be paid weekly in cash or by check and the rate to be paid shall be determined in advance for the ensuing week.

Section 10. Contributions:--Contributions may be received or obtained by the Commission or by the relief directors from any source whatsoever and the same shall be deposited and withdrawn as other moneys made available to said Commission as hereafter provided, and shall be used for the general work of said Commission, unless the donors thereof otherwise so express. In addition to the contributions of money, the Commission shall be authorized to receive contributions of office space, office furniture, supplies, food, clothing, and all other goods, wares and merchandise and personal or other services useful in furnishing the emergency relief provided by this Act and to make use of the same, in the Commission's discretion, in carrying out the purposes of this Act. Upon the termination of the emergency period all contributions of other things than money, remaining undisposed of under the provisions of this Act, shall be sold by the Commission and the proceeds paid over to the General Fund of New Castle County.

Section 11. Records, Accounts, and Reports:--The Commission and the relief director shall keep true and accurate accounts of all money, and of all contributions of other things than money, received and accepted under the provisions of this Act, and also of all expenditures made; and shall also keep faithful records of their acts and proceedings hereunder. Such accounts and records shall be audited at regular periods by the .County Comptroller, and the Commission shall make monthly reports of its work to the Levy Court of New Castle County.

Section 12. Blank Forms:--The Commission shall prescribe and furnish such forms of records, accounts, reports, applications and other forms as it may deem advisable for the proper enforcement and administration of the provisions of this Act.

Section 13. General Powers of Administration:--In carrying out any of the provisions of this Act, the Commission, and any person duly authorized or designated by it, may conduct any investigation pertinent or material to the furtherance of its work. The Commission and each person so authorized is hereby empowered to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and compel the production of such books, papers, records and documents as may be relevant to any such investigation. Subpoenas shall be served by the Sheriffs of the counties in which the witnesses reside. The Commission shall have and may exercise such other powers as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act, including the power to call upon any agency or department of the government of New Castle County or of the State of Delaware for information deemed by the Commission to be relevant to the performance of its duties, and every such agency or department is hereby authorized and directed to furnish such information to the Commission, or its duly authorized representative, upon request.

Section 14. Dissolution of Commission on Completion of Work:--The Commission shall be dissolved and cease to function upon the termination of the emergency period or so soon thereafter as it shall have completed all work previously undertaken for the purpose of furnishing work relief and settled its obligations and completed its records and accounts. Upon such dissolution all expended* money remaining for the use of the Commission shall fall into and become a part of the General Fund of New Castle County, and shall be so credited; likewise, all tools, materials, supplies and other property remaining unconsumed and directly or indirectly in the physical possession and control of the commission shall be disposed of as elsewhere herein provided. The Commission shall make a full and final report to the Levy Court of New Castle County of its administration of the emergency relief provided by this Act, and of its acts and doings hereunder, and shall at the same time deliver to the Clerk of the Peace for New Castle County all its books, papers, files, records, and documents, which shall be preserved in the office of said Clerk of the Peace.

(*So enrolled.)

Section 15. Liberal Construction:--This Act shall be liberally construed to the end that the work of the Commission shall be consummated as equitably and expeditiously as practicable.

Section 16: Violations and Penalties:--A violation of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule of the Commission, subsequent to the certification, filing, posting, and publishing of such rule as provided herein, shall constitute a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars Or by imprisonment for not more than one year or by both such fine and imprisonment. The penalties prescribed by this Section shall not be exclusive, and if a rule be not obeyed, the Commission, by the exercise of any power conferred by this Act, may carry out its provisions.

Section 17. Inconsistent Statutory Powers or Duties:--If a statute, general or special, or any local law or ordinance confers a power, prescribes a duty, or imposes a restriction inconsistent with this Act or with a rule of the Commission made pursuant to this Act, such power shall not be exercised or such duty or restriction enforced during the emergency period.

Section 18. Appropriation for Emergency Relief:--The Levy Court of New Castle County hereby is authorized and empowered to appropriate any public moneys of said New Castle County, and/or to borrow upon the faith and credit of said New Castle County, by issuing bonds, notes, certificates of indebtedness or any other evidence of debt in such amounts, form or manner, and upon such terms as it may deem advisable for the purposes of this Act, and after the appointment of the Commission herein authorized, shall, on or before the twenty-fifth day of each month appropriate and set aside for the use of said Commission such sum or sums of money as it shall deem advisable, to be used by said Commission for the ensuing calendar month for the purposes of this Act, notice of which shall be immediately certified to the Secretary-Treasurer of said Commission, and the said Commission shall thereupon budget its work for the ensuing month according to the said sum or sums appropriated, and which budget and the expenditures thereunder or obligations incurred shall not exceed the sum so appropriated and set aside. The said Levy Court, in fixing the rate of taxation, shall annually, during the continuance of this Act, and as long as any obligation incurred thereunder is outstanding and payable, provide for a sum deemed by it sufficient to carry out the purposes of this Act, and/or to fully pay and cancel any obligations incurred thereunder.

Section 19. Additional Work Relief:--For the purpose of furnishing work relief in addition to that hereinabove provided for, the Engineer's office of New Castle County is hereby authorized and empowered to execute and perform as an independent contractor the work of clearing, grubbing, grading, planting trees, and drainage incident to the acquisition, construction and improvement of roads in New Castle County, provided, however, that only such persons shall be employed on such work as are certified to the County Engineer's Office by said relief commission, and such persons shall be employed only for such periods of time as the said Commission shall certify, but this provision shall in no wise prevent the employment of private contractors for such work. The powers hereby conferred shall be in addition to and not in limitation of the powers possessed or conferred by law upon the County Engineer's Office, and the powers hereby conferred shall cease upon the termination of the emergency period.

Section 20. If in the joint opinion of the Governor of the State and of the Levy Court of New Castle County, it shall be mutually ascertained as advisable that the administrative authority of the emergency relief provided by this Act shall be administered by Relief Commission, Inc., a corporation of the State of Delaware, formerly known as Associated Charities of Wilmington, Delaware, as set forth in Article 6 of Chapter 70 of the 1915 Revised Code of this State, then said Relief Commission, Inc., shall be known as the Commission provided for in this Act instead of the Commission provided for by Section 3 hereof, and all the authority, duties, obligations and powers provided for in this Act shall be conferred on and vested in said Relief Commission, Inc.

Section 21. Constitutionality:--If any clause, sentence, paragraph, or part of this Act shall for any reason be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of this Act but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.

Section 22. Time of Taking Effect:--This act shall take effect immediately.

Approved January 21, 1935.