Compromise FY 2018 Budget, as Agreed to Earlier by the Purzycki Administration and Council, is Approved by a Vote of 7 to 6
Mayor Purzycki, Council President Shabazz and Finance Committee Chair Freel say the compromise meets most Administration and Council objectives
A compromise Fiscal Year 2018 City budget, which Mayor Mike Purzycki and Council President Hanifa Shabazz reached agreement on earlier this week, was approved tonight 7 to 6 by Wilmington City Council. The budget totals $154.9 million. Mayor Mike Purzycki, Council President Shabazz and Council Finance Chair Charles “Bud” Freel had been seeking common ground for the past few weeks on a revised budget that addressed concerns raised by members of Council. Mayor Purzycki presented his original budget plan in March, and Council held budget hearings in April and early May.
“I am very grateful to the Council for working with my Administration to find a sensible compromise on the budget,” said Mayor Purzycki. “The action of the Council tonight helps us reach a few goals which include reducing the size and cost of government and allowing for a budget surplus next year to help mitigate projected multi-million dollar budget deficits through FY 2020. Most importantly, the Administration and Council have ensured that the City will continue to provide citizens with the current level of city services while we tackle tougher and costly issues like rising health care and pensions. I appreciate Council’s attention to these issues through the leadership of Council President Shabazz and Finance Chair Bud Freel, and the support of Council to find solutions to our fiscal concerns.”
“For the last 45 five or so days, Council and the Administration have worked diligently through public hearings and other discussions to gain an understanding of the Mayor’s budgets for the General, Capital, and Water Sewer Funds,” said Council President Hanifa Shabazz. “With seven new Council members, I can’t say enough about their commitment to get this budget passed with time to spare! As with any budget, there are issues on which the Administration and Council must reach consensus. With the support of my Council colleagues, it was prudent that a
full-blown Fire Academy be part of this budget to provide job opportunities for local residents rather than using a certification list. To address some of the concerns of the CDC Report, there is now funding for a Safe Haven site in the 6th Council District. The Mayor sent Council a fiscally responsible budget which resulted in a foundation for making some tough decisions easier. I would like to thank Mayor Purzycki and my Council colleagues.”
“This is a fiscally responsible budget which reflects shared spending priorities while also keeping in mind the impact on taxpayers,” said Council Member Freel, Finance and Economic Development Chair. “Balancing the city’s budget is the most important public policy this municipality regularly makes, and I am pleased that Council and the Administration were able to reach a consensus necessary to provide the resources needed to continue to provide a level of service that citizens have become used to receiving.”
Mayor Purzycki highlighted some of the elements of the operating budget approved tonight by City Council:
- It eliminates a $2 million projected budget deficit for next fiscal year (FY 2018) and helps to mitigate, but does not eliminate, large budget deficits for Fiscal Years 2019, 2020 and 2021
- It allows the City to endure a projected decrease of $920,000 in the City wage tax next year, a projected increase of $701,000 in overtime costs for police and fire, and a projected $1.2 million increase in employee and retiree health care benefits
- It reduces the size of government by eliminating 29 vacant positions for an annual savings of $2.5 million
- It requires a 7.5% property tax increase to balance the budget. For a property with an assessed value of $50,000, the annual property tax will increase by $70 a year, and the tax on a property assessed at $100,000 would increase by $140 a year, or $11.67 a month.
- It reduces the projected FY 2018 budget surplus to $2.7 million versus the $3.4 surplus projected in the Mayor’s original budget
- It provides $386,000 for a 14-week complete fire training class (93rd Fire Academy) for the purpose of hiring additional firefighters and for the payment of overtime to firefighters during the training period
- It provides $30,000 to allow the Fire Department to re-institute a Fire Explorers Program which educates young City residents about firefighting so they develop interest in becoming firefighters
- It provides $70,000 in additional safety equipment for City firefighters—equipment which is not eligible to be purchased through the City’s Capital Lease Program
- It provides $22,500 to support a Safe Haven summer youth activity center in the City’s 6th District, which is the only Council district without such a facility. The City’s Safe Haven locations are being coordinated this year with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Community Advisory Council, which is implementing the CDC recommendations to reduce youth violence.
- It provides $35,000 to supplement the City’s existing $45,000 budget for a Live Where You Work Program, which incentivizes citizens to purchase a home in Wilmington
- It authorizes $125,000 so the City can develop a required citywide program to bring Wilmington into compliance with requirements of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- It authorizes $61,600 requested by Treasurer Velda Jones Potter for a debt management software program, to increase her consultant or contracted services budget allowance for FY 2018, and for travel and community activities
- It appropriates $69,000 to repay the federal government part of a 2008 Department of Justice grant the City received to upgrade communications equipment for the Police Department; an audit penalized the City for not following accounting procedures when, in order to leverage the funding, city grant money was given to the state which was also in the process of upgrading its police communications equipment
- It provides $5,800 to supplement the state-funded salary of the City’s Historic Preservation Planner
The approved water/sewer budget includes a 4% increase in the City’s water/sewer rate, but no increase in the City’s stormwater rate. The new rate will result is a $1.81 monthly increase for a residential city water customer who uses 4,000 gallons of water per month. This rate increase is supported by the City’s independent Water and Sewer Citizens Advisory Commission (UCAB) which makes recommendations on utility matters to the Administration. It will also allow the City to fully fund a 60-day operating reserve while meeting the minimum debt coverage ratio set by UCAB policy.
Mayor Purzycki, who is the first Wilmington Chief Executive to propose a multi-year budget outline, said while the fiscal condition of the City is stable, Wilmington must re-invest in economic development and infrastructure, enhance government efficiency, control costs and eliminate projected budget deficits. The Mayor said he is grateful to have reached common ground on a budget as the City’s prepares new initiatives to control crime, strengthen neighborhoods, increase employment and improve the delivery of City services to our citizens.
For more information about this news release, contact:
Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Communications
Office of Mayor Michael S. Purzycki
Mobile: (302) 420-7928