April 2008

New Castle County Executive Chris Coons

Chris Coons with Brian Bailey & Beverley Baxter

In closing his FY 2009 Budget Address, Chris Coons quoted Winston Churchill's "The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity‚ while the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty‚ " and declared himself an optimist. Chris certainly has a lot of opportunities.

In FY 2008, revenue from property tax has grown by an anemic 1.2%, Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue is down 15%‚ and permitting revenue is down significantly. With a proposed budget increase of 4.9% - mostly for debt service and public safety - it will take $17.2 million from reserves to balance the FY 2009 budget without a property tax increase.

No new programs or personnel‚ no new capital projects, no pay increase for County employees other than contractually-mandated merit steps‚ unfunding 16 positions and deleting 13 more are just some of the "opportunities" in this budget. Requested budget increases have been denied‚ capital projects will be deauthorized‚ special events eliminated.

Real opportunities include imposing fiscal discipline on every decision‚ forming a senior team to improve efficiency and find additional savings‚ and adopting a pay-as-you-go approach whereby County residents will have to be willing to pay for services and amenities which they say they want.

In spite of the fiscal problems inherited from the Gordon Administration‚ much has been accomplished during Chris Coon's tenure as County Executive‚ from new libraries and parks to finally addressing the sewer systems‚ both North and South; from CALEA accreditation for the Police Department to the most energy-efficient government facility in the State; from the 2007 Comp Plan Update to open space and farmland preservation.

Chris will share the "opportunities" he's had since he became County Executive and his vision for the future of New Castle County.

Beverley Baxter

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