New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon presented his $267.2 million recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2017 before the County Council Tuesday evening.
The recommendation is a 4.12 percent increase from the previous year, which Gordon says is due to the cost of employee salaries and benefit increases.
Gordon calls his proposal a “very conservative budget plan” that improves quality of life for residents without an increase in tax. >For the fourth year, Gordon’s budget doesn’t include any property tax increase. There’s also no sewer rate increase.
“It’s not a time to tax people when I know the foreclosure rate, the empty buildings sitting around the county and the loss of livable wages,” Gordon said. “Until we get that back, then we have to deal with less.”
Of the $55 million recommended capital budget proposed the largest expense is $22.3 million to fund sewer and storm water management rehabilitation and renovations.
Gordon said when increasing funds he concentrated on programs that benefit public welfare.
He said public safety is a top priority for fiscal year 2017, making up for 53 percent of the total general fund spending. The total amount of recommended funding for public safety is $98 million, compared to last year’s approved budget of $92.6 million. Sixty-four cents of every county tax dollar received goes toward public safety.
There will be an addition of 15 police officers, which was approved in fiscal year 2016. Part of the funding also would cover costs of new technology, such as police body worn cameras.
The county also recommends $4.2 million to fund volunteer fire companies—a 3 percent increase.
Gordon also has recommended $19.9 million for community services, which is about $1 million more than last year’s approved budget.
He said he’s proud of the $7.5 million in funding recommended to complete the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center in Wilmington, which aims to provide the less fortunate books, technology and other learning resources.
“It’s starting to lift up a community that was long overlooked,” Gordon said of the $21 million project. “It will be a symbol of hope for those who seek to use it.”
Contractual libraries also will receive $2.4 million, which is a 3 percent increase.
Gordon also stressed the importance of preserving the county’s parks. He recommended $2.7 million to Glasgow Park and Glasgow Hermitage, and a Parks/Playgrounds/Courts rehab funding of $550,000.
Focusing on job growth and the economy, the Economic Development Office would receive $100,000 for economic development endeavors.