In his first State of the County address, New Castle County Executive Paul Clark’s (D) unprecedented message was optimistic, describing the county as “an island of stability in the rough waters of today’s economy.”
Typically, the State of the County address is rolled into the County Executive’s budget address.
“New Castle County’s solid, fiscally solid… We’ll have police on the streets, we will have libraries open, we’ll have free parks,” said Clark.
Clark, a Democrat, highlighted accomplishments under his administration including the erasure of a $7 million budget shortfall in FY2011, and an even smaller budget the following year, achieved without layoffs, service cuts, tax hikes or dipping into reserves. Also, according to his projections, Clark helped steer the county off a course that would have amounted to a $70 million budget gap by 2015, depleting the county’s reserves. Instead, under his leadership, now New Castle County is on track for a $27 million shortfall by 2015.
“If you’re going to interrupt Council session to put on a show for the public, I love the optimistic tone, but I would’ve wanted more specifics. It was incredibly lacking in specifics,” argued NCCo Council President Tom Kovach (R), who would have liked to have heard Clark address how the county will examine soaring health care costs for county employees or how to address agency redundancies, e.g. the Wilmington Housing Authority, State Housing Authority and the New Castle County Housing Authority, as the nation’s and county’s economies continues to suffer.
“I’m not criticising any of these programs, but the administration overlap is immense. We can work together to accomplish these same goals,” said Kovach. “You know what, that’s my job. My job is to push Mr. Clark, to work with Paul, to be his foil, to push him, to make sure the county’s doing all that it can do.”
As for FY2013, the numbers show a $5 million dollar shortfall.
“I am hopeful that — with your help — we can give the citizens of New Castle County another year with no reduction in services — and no tax increase,” said Clark.
Clark is set to deliver his FY2013 budget address before County Council in March.
You can read Paul Clark’s entire State of the County address here.
Below you can watch an excerpt from Paul Clark’s address focusing on where New Castle County is today and goals he has set for this upcoming fiscal year. Immediately afterwards, County President Tom Kovach reacts to Clark’s speech and talks about what he would have liked to have heard.