The budget axe is falling in New Castle County, starting with the county’s Washington lobbyist.
New Castle County is facing a projected $5 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, and a $10 million shortfall for FY2012. County Executive Paul Clark says cutting out the lobbyist who had represented the county’s interests in D.C. is his way of leading by example. “We’re a small state with close ties to our senators and representatives, so spending money on a lobbyist is unnecessary,” Clark says. The value of a lobbyist representing New Castle County is seriously diminished now that former New Castle County Executive Chris Coons is a member of the U.S. Senate.
Other budget cutting measures Clark has asked all county department general managers to cut their budgets by a collective $1 million. “There isn’t one department in this government that won’t be affected by these austerity measures. The economy is not rebounding quickly, and we simply must get our spending under control in order to survive,” Clark says.
He’s also changed the county’s severe weather closing policy. County employees will now be granted “liberal leave” if they can’t make it in due to severe weather. Those employees would have to exchange vacation, personal, or other accrued time if they can’t come to work due to the weather.
Clark talked about the county’s budget troubles on WHYY’s First last month. At that time, he said he was considering even the smallest of cuts in the county’s spending, including eliminating the weight of spare tires from County Police cars in an effort to save on fuel costs.