Administration and Council Reach Agreement on FY 2013 Budget
Posted on 05/17/2012 7:38 pm
After a series of public hearings in April and May and additional discussions between the two branches of City government over recent days, the City's Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget (for the fiscal year beginning July 1) was approved by City Council tonight by a vote of 10 to 3.
The new budget lowers the projected FY 2013 budget deficit by $453,192 to $2.06 million dollars versus the previously anticipated $2.5 million deficit. In keeping with the budget proposal presented by the Mayor in March, the approved City budget will not require a property tax increase or the layoffs of City employees.
However, the FY 2013 General Fund budget, which now totals $142.9 million versus the originally proposed $143.4 million spending plan, will eliminate an additional 10 vacant City positions in addition to the elimination of four vacant positions as proposed by Mayor James M. Baker in March. The additional 10 vacant positions to be eliminated include seven in the police department (patrol officers), and one position each in the Mayor's Office (assistant communications director), City Council (television producer/director) and the Finance Department (account entry supervisor).
City Council added $200,000 to the new budget for youth services, and another $6,500 to increase the discretionary funds that are available annually to Council Members. Mayor Baker, Council President Norman D. Griffiths and Council Finance Chair Charles "Bud" Freel said the new budget is a fair and responsible budget that holds the line on the delivery of City services while addressing the need to continually tackle the City's financial concerns caused by lower than anticipated revenue due to a poor economy.
The Mayor and Council started the budget process in March with three largely uncontrollable expenditure items to deal with including pension contributions that rose sharply by $2.3 million or an increase of more than 19%; debt service which increased nearly $1.2 million (reflecting a full year of principal and interest payments on the City's November 2011 capital bond issue), and the fact that the General Fund in FY 13 will have to absorb $329,000, which is the cost of 15 police officer positions for the last four months of the fiscal year when the Federal COPS grant, which is now covering the salaries of these officers, expires.
The City's FY 2013 Water/Sewer Fund budget remained relatively intact during the budget process and totals $64.3 million. The new budget requires a 9% increase in the rates for water, sewer and stormwater effective July 1. The increase for the average ratepayer is about $4.19 per month, or $12.57 per quarter based on the average water use of 12,000 gallons per quarter.
The Mayor said the water/sewer plan will continue to support the high-priority initiatives the City has discussed and debated in recent years, such as an accelerated Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) mitigation effort and improvements to Wilmington's finished water filtration and supply system. Mayor Baker said the City is attaining environmental standards that exceed EPA requirements to stabilize northern Delaware's water supply, which he said is critical to the future of Wilmington's citizens and customers served in New Castle County.
Mayor Baker said the Water/Sewer Fund budget follows the plan that the Administration and City Council agreed to a few years ago to bring fiscal stability to the fund, which supports the City's current and future money-saving environmental efforts as well as a vast infrastructure that supports the City's wastewater treatment plant and the production of quality drinking water.