New Castle County budget up for review; no tax increases, larger than last year [video]

The breakdown of the FY2014 New Castle County Budget is now available.

The more than 300-page budget details the total operating budget of $250.9 million and capital budget of $35.6 million. The budget was not available during County Executive Tom Gordon’s visual presentation failed through a technical error.  No hard copies of the budget were available then.  It is now up on line through the county website.

The balanced budget proposal is about 3.2 percent, or $7.8 million, larger than last year’s budget.

New Castle County Council President Chris Bullock explained that they were able to produce a larger budget without taxes increases based on the predicted revenue from real estate tax, licenses and permits, service fees and special funds and other revenue generators.

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Public safety

The biggest increase from last year’s budget is in public safety sector. The estimate for FY 2014 is $84.7 million, a $4.5 million increase from last year.

With a half a dozen homicides in the city of Wilmington alone this year, Bullock said the increase in public safety will help police better target crime riddled areas with new technology.

“It will be for new technology, new officers, general upkeep of our vehicles, the 911 center, as well as our paramedics,” said Bullock.

He said they plan to add a handful of new law enforcement officers and paramedics and will continue to invest in predictive policing technology.

During last night’s budget address, County Executive Tom Gordon also announced a partnership with the Wilmington Police Department to increase police jurisdiction lines for both county and city officers.

Quality of life improvements

The second largest increase in the operating budget is in the area of special services which handles maintenance such as engineering designs and environmental operations for the county’s buildings, sewers and parks. A $2.9 million increase will bring the special service budget to $63.3 million and the county will use some of those funds to hire 19 new maintenance workers and to buy new equipment to service parks and other county properties.

Bullock added that the budget reflects the council’s agenda to address more quality of life issues.

“We’re really focused on quality of life issues and effective and efficient government,” said Bullock. “Ensuring that the land use process is transparent, we also want to maintain parks and libraries and ponds, and things of that nature while also focusing on ethics, as we heard last night. As president I want to make sure we stay focused on a lot of the issues that focus on the quality of life.”

Next up for county council will be a series of hearings on the budget proposal.

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