Ruth Ann Minner said in a press statement issued on June 5 that she is having
legislation drafted to implement four of five
recommendations from a taskforce she appointed to come up with
possible solutions to what Mayor James Baker and other city
officials have described as 'structural defects' in the
municipal income stream. A sixth recommendation does not require
General Assembly action.
taskforce described those recommendations as "near-term action"
and asked to be allowed to explore ideas with "potential
longer-term benefit." Minner acceded to that request,
announcing that she is extending the life of the panel, which
was created by gubernatorial executive order in late March.
Republican, told Delaforum on June 6 that he supports endowing
the city with power "to make revenue decisions to deal with the
structural problems." He explained that would involve a
legislative package different from what Minner and the taskforce
are proposing. He indicated that might include some additional
ideas and be sufficient to address the entire problem now.
not talking about a massive handout, but [about] giving them the
tools they need to deal with their situation," he said, adding
that he has confidence in the ability of Baker and his
administration to follow through.
Minner's press statement said she will ask the Assembly
to enable the city to obtain a better return on its investment
in Hoopes Dam and Reservoir, the primary backup for northern New
Castle County's potable water supply.
Delaforum if that indicates she endorses the taskforce's
potentially controversial proposal to levy a $1-a-month charge
on all water customers as compensation for the city's
providing a quantity of stored water to tide the area over in
the event of another serious drought, Gregory Patterson,
Minner's press secretary, replied that the measure that will be
submitted to the legislature "is being reworked [and] may be a
little different" from what the taskforce recommended. He would
taskforce's scenario, the 'water availability charge' would be
accompanied by increases in rates charged customers of the
city's water service. The new rates would still be considerably
lower than those charged by the area's two profit-making water
utility companies and the Newark municipal system. The
Wilmington system serves both city residents and businesses and
those in several nearby suburbs.
taskforce recommendation that would generate a significant
amount of new revenue is imposing a 'hosting fee' to
compensate the city for providing a location for the Cherry
Island waste-disposal landfill. Different ways of charging the
fee are offered as suggestions in the taskforce's report, but
they also would amount to the equivalent of a $1-a-month charge
on residential customers throughout the county.
said Minner considers that "a matter to be worked out between
the city and the [Delaware] Solid Waste Authority."
statement said she also intends to propose that the Assembly
authorize the city to levy a sliding-scale admissions tax on
tickets to sports and entertainment events and a 2% surtax on
top of the state's 6% lodging tax to be paid by patrons of
hotels in the city. The franchise tax which Conectiv Power is
charged on its sales of electricity would be extended to include
sales of natural gas. The company considers that tax to be a
cost of doing business included in its rate base and thereby
paid by all its customers.
proposal is to increase the fee the Wilmington Parking Authority
pays in lieu of taxes. That amount is set by a contractual
agreement and does not require legislation.
said the legislation will be submitted soon in the form of
separate pieces of proposed legislation rather than a
stand-or-fall package. It has not yet been determined who will
sponsor the bills, he said.
for specifics, Smith said he agrees with using city assets to
leverage income. He added that he supports a city lodging tax
but is opposed to taxing tickets costing less than $10, such as
admission to Wilmington Blue Rocks baseball games. Asked for an
example of a possible revenue source beyond those in the
taskforce report, Smith cited capitation taxes levied by some
townships in Pennsylvania but stopped short of saying he will
would not link the apparent improvement in the national and
regional economies to the revenue plan. He did describe it as
"an entirely separate matter" from consideration of revenue
measures, now pending in the Assembly, to deal with the state's
making her intentions known on June 5, Minner conferred with
Baker. She pledged to continue to be supportive as the taskforce
takes up the longer-range issues.
no question that the economic health of the city relies heavily
on the economic health of the city of Wilmington," the press
statement quoted her as saying.