Technically, Council at its regular session on May 27
unanimously approved spending an additional $3 million on the
project in fiscal 2004. Councilman William Tansey announced,
however, that was tentative, pending further consideration
by the Special Services Committee, which he chairs. The
committee, which, like all standing committees, includes all
seven members of Council, has a meeting scheduled for the
afternoon of June 10. Council next meets in regular session that
the appropriation in the capital budget and an ordinance
authorizing the sale of general obligation bonds to finance that
budget set up an unusual parliamentary situation. Rather than
having to approve continuing the multi-year project, Council
would have to vote to remove it from the budget.
don't take any action to remove it, [the Department of] Special
Services moves ahead," Council president Christopher Coon said
at a Finance Committee meeting with preceded the Council
was not unexpected. As Delaforum previously reported, a sharply
divided Council sought to take advantage of the breathing room
provided by the month between adoption of the budgets and the
start of the new fiscal year.
said that proceeding that way "sent a signal" that Council is
committed to provide publicly financed sewers, albeit it
possibly on an extended timetable or by a less comprehensive
program. "It is not my expectation that this (including the
project in the bond authorization) is a final decision," he
previously has indicated that he has reservations about the
total cost of the project, which necessarily will be spread over
the entire county rather than confined to the area the sewers
Councilwoman Karen Venezky, who chairs the finance panel, took
issue with Coons's statement, saying that there is no
indication at this point how a final decision will go.
said the June 10 committee meeting is intended as a forum for
continued discussion. "I don't think we'll reach a conclusion,"
Freebery, the county's chief administrative officer, said in
effect that Council, indeed, has a month's grace to try to
resolve what obviously is a sharp difference of opinion among
its members. "Nothing can be done [under] the new budget until
July 1," she said. "We're not going to rush off to the bond
market ... until we know what everybody wants."
financial officer Ron Morris said that, even if the $3 million
stands, about $39 million, or more than a third of the cost of
the project, will have to be appropriated in future years.
Tansey's announcement that the issue was off limits for the
Council session, William Narcowich, retiring president of the
Civic League for New Castle County, testified during the
public comment portion of the session that the umbrella civic
association recently went on record unanimously supporting
completion of the sewer system "as originally planned."
any official discussion of the sewer issue, Council breezed
through passage of the package of ordinances and resolutions
required to set the county's financial course for the year.
There was no discussion, let alone debate, among the members
before any of their unanimous votes.
the $3 million allocated in the capital budget to finance
continued design work on the sewer project, was a relatively
minimal slice of the $44.5 million authorized for several sewer
and sewer-related projects. That, in turn is well over half of
the total $78.1 million capital budget.. The largest single item
in the budget, $16 million, is slated for parkland acquisition,
particularly a large tract to expand the planned regional park
at Glasgow. Another $10 million is dedicated to development of
project, including its possible expansion if purchase of the
additional property can be negotiated was endorsed by officers
of civic associations in the area.
version of the fiscal 2004 operating budget came in at $195.1 million. That
is up from $189.1 million this year, including changes
Council has made since it was initially adopted last spring.
of $250,000 to enable the Wilmington Fire Department to expand
its ambulance service, relieving the need for suburban volunteer
fire companies to respond to some of its calls, drew vocal
included pay raises for its members' aides, a move which Venezky
said will put them on a par with other county employees in
rate for residential and commercial properties in unincorporated
areas of the county remains, as it has since County Executive
Thomas Gordon took office, 45.5¢
for each $100 of assessed value. The rate in incorporated areas
ranges from 29.7¢ in Wilmington and Newark to 37.75¢ in the
three Ardens. Those rates are based on how much locally-financed
services the municipalities provide.
taxes, which are due Sept. 30, are estimated to produce
$68.9 million in the coming fiscal year.