made that comment after chief financial officer Ronald Morris
presented at a committee meeting a simplified version of the
county's financial situation and a projection of what is likely
to happen during the next four years if the present course is
Venezky pointed out that will mean extending to "a fantastic 12
years" the time the county will go without a tax increase. Few
if any other counties in the nation can boast a comparable
record, she said.
other matters in committee meetings and its regular session on
Jan. 25, Council:
Heard that the county has what is nationally considered an
'ideal' amount of public parkland and plans to add more while
improving what is there.
Agreed to remove restrictions from the $15 million public safety
grant given to the city of Wilmington last year.
Realigned its committee structure.
Chairman William Tansey told a meeting of the special services
committee that he is having legislation drafted that would
prohibit the county from buying out any more properties. It
currently is purchasing flood-damaged houses in Newkirk Estates
and Glendale. Last year, it participated with the state in
buying out houses in Glenville. Tansey gave the committee no
details of his proposal.
Morris's briefing was in response to a previous request by
Council president Paul Clark to explain the county's financial
situation in simple terms that the average person can
told the committee that the county began the present fiscal year
last July 1 with $112.3 million in general fund reserves, not
including a mandatory 20% 'rainy day fund'; will take in about
$139.2 million in revenue and spend $148.2 million; and, after
transferring $ 21.9 million to maintain capital assets and bring
the 'rainy day fund' up to new requirements, end the year on
June 30 with $81.3 million in reserve.
Revenues, he said, are expected to grow by 2.5% to 3% annually
during the next four years, reducing reserves to $16.2 million
by June 30, 2009.
Unrestricted sewer fund reserves, however, have dwindled during
the past few years and will be down to $14. 1 million by June
30, 2005 and, if there is no fee increase, a relatively minimal
$1.5 million a year later. Without higher fees, expected annual
deficits will totally wipe out reserves during fiscal 2007.
Morris's simplified report:
Castle County's fiscal 2005 projections
Total tax revenues
Total other revenue
Total personnel costs
Total non-personnel costs
Revenues over expenditures
Total financial reserves
| Real estate taxes
Real estate transfer tax
| Tax rate preservation
| New facilities maintenance
| Undesignated fund balance
| Other reserves
|'Rainy day' fund balance
Manager Jon Husband, of the Department of Special Services, told
Council's special services committee that there are 5,900 acres
of county parkland. When approximately the same amount of state
parks are added along with Wilmington, Newark and
privately-owned parks and similar open-access land, the total
amount is 15,300 acres, or 30 acres for each 1,000 of
Castle County is where it should be in terms of parkland and
open space," said Joseph Freebery, manager of the department.
Husband said the emphasis in the next few years will be
expanding the park system in the rapidly developing part of the
county south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. That expansion
and further development elsewhere will be accomplished only with
open consultations with residents of the areas. "We don't do
anything with out parks without community meetings," he said.
cited the 300-acre regional park being developed at Glasgow as
illustrative of public response. There were literally "hundreds
of people" on the sledding hill there while the county was
digging out of a snowstorm on Jan. 24, he said. Councilman
William Tackett, who represents that area, said it also was
crowded the previous day -- durng the storm.
Husband said the county has "discovered the secret for
attracting crowds -- keep it free."
public safety grant originally restricted the first $5 million
to use to acquire police vehicles. In response to a request from
Mayor James Baker and other Wilmington officials, Councilman
Penrose Hollins sponsored an ordinance to remove that
restriction from half of that amount to permit is use for other
have a whole lot of more pressing needs than take-home
vehicles," William Montgomery, Baker's chief of staff, told the
said that the city police force "is stretched thin' in
responding to a spate of shootings. The force is 11 officers shy
of its authorized strength of 300 and officers are working an
extensive amount of overtime. Although there has been a recent
police academy graduation, those officers are still involved in
on-the-job training, he said.
now the most pressing need is another [police] academy class,"
he said. Recruiting and screening candidates normally takes
about three months and the training itself takes six months, he
his testimony several members of the committee spontaneously
suggested removing restrictions for the entire $5 million. All
Council committees are committees of the whole and all 13
Council members were at the meeting. Eventually, Hollins ended
up with 12 co-sponsors of a revised ordinance which was enacted
at the evening Council session.
committee was added and all 13 Council members got leadership
assignments under a plan drafted by Clark and approved at an
executive committee meeting between the regular session and a
special session called to remove auditor Robert Hicks. Present
chairs were kept in those positions and vice chairs, which
committees did not have before, were added.
committees and their leaders are: Executive, Clark and Hollins,
who was unanimously retained as Council president pro-tem;
community services, Hollins and Joseph Reda; the new economic
development committee, Clark and Robert Weiner; administration
and finance, Venezky and George Smiley; land use, Patty Powell
and David Tackett; personnel, Timothy Sheldon and Smiley; public
safety, William Bell and Jea Street; and special services,
Tansey and John Cartier.