met their Waterloo in the name of economy, with a bit of
consideration for folks who live within earshot of Rockwood
Mansion Park thrown in, Anne Farley, general manager of the
Department of Community Services, told County Council at a
hearing on her department's fiscal 2006 budget request.
Eliminating the canon, along with the brunch and dinner for
v.i.p.s attending the festival, will save $51,777, she said.
When combined with cuts in other programs, that will enable the
department to finance some initiatives that County Executive
Christopher Coons proposes while keeping its budget virtually
unchanged from this year.
department budget streamlines operations so that we spend
taxpayers' dollars wisely. The budget proposes ways to operate
more efficiently and effectively without compromising overall
services to New Castle County residents," she testified on Apr.
Community Services is asking for $17,288,812 during the year
which begins July 1. That would be up slightly less than
three-tenths of 1% from $17,240,391 which Council approved for
this year. In its
proposed budget, the county administration
compares the requests to the original authorization without
including any supplemental ones added since the year began.
initiatives Farley listed for financing initially were presented
to Council in Coons's budget address. At that time he described
them as a scaled down version of what he would have liked to
have proposed during his first year as executive. Since taking
office in January, Coons has adopted a fiscally conservative
approach to county spending.
The just completed
visitors center at Rockwood Mansion Park.
Farley, a Coons appointee who also is new to her job, echoed
that in her presentation.
not referring specifically to the former Gordon administration,
she made it clear that the "redirection of funds" is based on a
different set of priorities. That was exemplified by her
reference to "the reunification of the county and the Friends of
Rockwood." That support organization, which fell out of favor as
Gordon reconfigured the then largely neglected park just north
of Wilmington into a showcase, "now [has] an office at the
mansion and [is] working to expand volunteer support for the
museum," she said.
Councilman Robert Weiner, who has been active with the Friends
group, hailed the rapprochement, but questioned the absence of
what he indicated was an expected proposal to charge an
admission fee at the popular July festival. "If we charged $1 or
$2, that's a lot of money that could be generated." The festival
draws about 75,000 attenders.
said that charging admission has not been ruled out for the
future and said her department is preparing a long-range plan
for use of the park and its just-completed visitors center.
Emphasizing that he is not down on Rockwood, Council president
Paul Clark questioned its position relative to the overall
Community Services budget. It is apportioned just over $1
million in a $17.2 million total department budget and $241,000
is being sought for the Ice Cream Festival, he said.
"You've done a nice job of cutting a little bit of fat off," he
addition to the cuts relative to the festival, the department
also is proposing reducing the Rockwood budget for the Butlers
Pantry, a cafe-like eatery in the mansion, by $247,000 by
increasing food prices, shortening hours of operation and
transferring the equivalent of 1½ employees to other county
jobs. Also at Rockwood, the overnight camping event and the
'rover romp' for pet dogs would be eliminated.
new programs to be added by the department during the coming
year and their proposed costs are:
arrangement, to be known as the 'Hometown Heroes Home-buying
Program', involving Citizens, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wilmington
Trust banks, to provide interest-free loans to cover
downpayments and closing costs to enable 60 police officers,
firefighters, paramedics and school crossing guards to purchase
Emergency Services Corps to train and recruit young people as
volunteer firefighters, $300,000;
'Buy from Your Neighbor' program to encourage purchase of
locally produced meat, vegetables and fruit, $75,000;
Summer youth programs to "provide structured recreation programs
in the parks [in] high-risk neighborhoods," $135,000; and
Providing books and other library material off-site for day care
centers, organizations that serve home-bound seniors and small
Councilman Jea Street questioned the adequacy of the youth
Community Services also will combine with the land use, special
services and law departments to deal with run-down and abandoned
properties, to have them brought into compliance with county
codes of to have them turned over to nonprofit housing
organizations to be restored.
said the department plans to spend $11.5 million on library
operations. That is in addition to capital budget projects which
include completion of the new Woodlawn Library in west
Wilmington in about a year, preliminary planning for a $23
million regional library south of the Chesapeake & Delaware
Canal and expansion of the Hockessin and Kirkwood Libraries.
Councilwoman Patty Powell said that the projected completion
date for the southern regional library, now fiscal 2011 is well
beyond what she had been told was the target date.
other budget hearing on Apr. 25, Charles Baker, general manager
of the Department of Land Use, said his department is seeking
$13.5 million, a 5% increase over the initially approved fiscal
2005 spending plan. If proposed increases in fees that the
department charges are approved, they will generate an
additional $1 million, an 18.5% increase in revenue, he said.
of the increased spending in the coming year involves personnel
costs, including adding two code-enforcement inspectors to
implement the residential property rental code that Council is
expected to approve.
said that 1,900 new property parcels were added to the rolls in
2004, of which 1,361 were in unincorporated areas and 539 in
municipalities. There were 200 development plans involving 1,209
lots recorded. A year end, 284 plans were pending approval.
and Councilman William Bell said the department's long-range
projection envisioning not having to significantly increase its
inspection force in coming years to cope with expected
development in the county is unrealistic. "Don't make the budget
look good and operations look bad," Street said.