Proposed New Castle County budget keeps phased in property tax hike

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New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer presented a proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget that continues the phased-in 15 percent property tax hike.

Meyer was able to push through a three percent increase in the lodging tax and a property tax increase last year. Under a compromise that was approved by the council, the tax increase was phased in over two years. Meyer cited the tapping of county financial reserves under his predecessor as another reason for the tax increase.

The county budget covers a limited array of services and accounts for a small portion of total property taxes. The state picks up other costs that counties in other states would normally handle. Also fire protection is handled by volunteer companies with a limited number of full-time staffers. The county does make some contributions to fire company budgets.

See the text of Meyers speech below. A link to a story on last year’s budget is at the bottom of this story.

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  • General Fund Operating Budget: $207,716,434 (3.06 percent higher than FY2019 budget)
  • General Fund Capital Budget: $18,552,238
  • Sewer Fund Operating Budget: $83,477,873 (4.20% higher than FY2019 budget)
  • Sewer Fund Capital Budget: $48,590,563

“Last year we announced our Jobs Now job initiative that streamlined our land use processes to support local jobs,” Meyer said. “As I stand here tonight the projects in our Jobs Now pipeline will support 9,280 jobs – that represents a lot of future career opportunities for a county of 560,000 residents. Tonight, we build on that success and on our progress in improving public safety and quality of life by presenting a balanced budget that makes the best use of your tax dollars to get value for your families and your community.”

The proposed Fiscal Year 2020 operating budget includes funding to “overfill” county paramedic staffing levels by 15 positions and increases the county’s support for the fire service by $200,000, to $4.45 million to fund a portion of fire company operating costs.

The proposed the Fiscal Year 2020 capital budget includes funding to support maintenance needs, safety programs and service improvements, including:

  • The Public Safety vest protection program;
  • Design and construction of the new Southern regional library;
  • Pedestrian safety improvements along the Route 9 corridor;
  • Countywide park enhancements, including renovations and utility upgrades at Surratte Pool, Delcastle Park bleachers and Jester Park walking path, and:
  • Sewer improvement projects across the county to reduce sewer overflows, increase capacity and expand service

In 2018, the Meyer Administration, with support from County Council, worked collaboratively with state legislators to secure passage of state legislation to establish a hotel tax that will raise millions of dollars annually and increase state financial support for the county paramedic service from 24 percent to 30 percent of expenses.

A 1990 state law established a statewide paramedic service through a county-state cost-sharing partnership and this year the Meyer Administration will work in Dover to seek restoration of the state paramedic reimbursement rate to 50 percent, the county executive announced.

Meyer will host a series of community town halls this spring to engage with members of the public about the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The schedule of those Town Halls will be posted online at www.facebook.com/nccde/events.

County Council OKs 7.5% property tax hike as part of 15% phase in plan

The proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets total $377,007,574.

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