The Wilmington City Council approved the budget, which cut the proposed property tax increases. Residents will see a 6% property tax increase and a 5% water/sewer rate hike. The City Council has created a property tax increase that will raise $2.6 million per year. The extra money will go to the sewer fund, and this increase is based on an average use of 4,000 gallons per month.
The Wilmington City Council officials voted to cut 15 positions, including the 7 vacancies in the Police Department. The budget includes a new department for Land Use and Planning, which will help with processing permits, as well as land development and planning. ARPA funds are replacing lost revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act, and we’ll have a budget surplus of $9.5 million this fiscal year.
Chris Johnson disagreed with Council President Trippi Congo, who would have liked more of the city’s share of ARPA funds (which was $55 million) to be spent on revenue replacement. Businesses and workers have been leaving Wilmington, which relies on a wage tax that isn’t collected if the party leaves or works remotely. The city needs to make it more attractive for people to live in Wilmington as it wants to keep its population growing.
“We’re still hopeful for the future, but we’re guarded due to budgeting. We had to take the steps now so that we can remain proactive and thoughtful so that we can move our city forward.” Wolf is content with a 3% increase, but wants the state to spend more money on Wilmington. Second district councilwoman Shané Darby voted no to the budget. She thinks there should have been more budget cuts, and expenses added, to the police department. James Spadola believes that instead of using taxpayer money to fund WITN for cable access meetings, it would be better to sponsor the broadcasts. He had doubts about the police audit, saying it would not lead to anything and that the Commission already audits Delaware’s other police on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Yolanda McCoy pointed out that any increase will hurt, especially at a time when inflation is already high.
In consideration of these factors, the Wilmington City Council has voted to keep a previously scheduled 3% tax increase to a lower 2.25%. The Congo wanted to wait on the City Council’s vote of the budget on Thursday night, but could not obtain a vote of 10-3 in favor. This was because the Wilmington City Council was not willing to give more funding to L&I.