April 2009

New Castle County Executive Chris Coons

 

In his March 17th Budget Address, Chris Coons said, "we face choices unmatched in our government's history." With the County facing more than a $40 million deficit, Chris has proposed a budget that balances cuts and tax increases by reducing the General Fund Budget by $23.7 million and raising $21 million via a property tax increase.

The FY 2010 budget cuts come after earlier rounds of budget cuts in each of the last four years, so now every cut causes pain. During a 12-session listening campaign, Chris, and members of Council, heard that, while residents want cuts before tax increases, they value key County services which they don't want cut, even if it means tax increases.

In Chris' proposed budget, 97 positions have been defunded; $75 million in capital projects have been eliminated; all remaining special events have been cancelled; $16 million will be cut from departments; and $4.78 saved via layoffs, unless the Unions agree to a "sustainable, concrete" alternative that saves the same amount. With three-quarters of the County's costs being personnel and with employee costs continuing to rise faster than revenues, the County has to find a way to bring those costs down.

It has to find, as well, better ways of informing tax payers that, of the $1,200 average local tax bill, only $400 is for New Castle County Property Tax, the remainder being school district taxes.

On a more positive note, Chris speaks weekly with Delaware Economic Development Office Director Alan Levin as the two work together to address issues and enhance economic development opportunities in the County.

Chris will share the challenges New Castle County is facing, outline the steps being taken to address them, and address the changes he anticipates to improve the economic development possibilities in New Castle County.

Beverley Baxter

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