Wilmington mayor delivers first city budget with slight increases and public safety as top priority [video]
Just three months into office, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams reminds the city during his first State of the City address that he is dedicated to what he promised during his campaign run for mayor.
At the city council meeting on Thursday, Mayor Williams proposed a $146-million dollar operating budget for Fiscal Year 2014, that's 2.8 percent higher than former Mayor James Baker's 2013 budget.
According to Mayor Williams, several things played a key role in the overall increase of the general fund from increases in pension healthcare, higher employee medical benefit costs, public safety technology upgrades, and mandated salary increases.
In fact, higher budget expenses are also the result of 14 patrol officers and 13 firefighters that would be retained despite the loss of grant money.
However, the city managed to dodge property tax increases and city layoffs in the FY 2014 budget but not a 12 percent hike in water and sewer rates.
"This will allow us to continue to make the improvements to our infrastructure necessary to provide clean drinking water to more than 100,000 customers and is a public health imperative," said Mayor Williams.
One thing the mayor assured those in attendance at the council meeting is that he remains dedicated to fighting crime.
"Since January 8th, Wilmington's finest has seized numerous handguns, 1 AK47 assault rifle, several hundred thousand of narcotics and cash," said Williams, who also talked about working with New Castle County law enforcement. "We will have cross jurisdiction authority, but let me make it understandably clear there will be no metropolitan police force."
City council's finance committee will review the mayor's proposal and be in talks with the Williams administration during budget hearings starting April 10th.
"I can assure you that council will look very closely at the administration's revenue projections and its proposed expenditures which fund employee salaries and benefits as well as an entire range of government programs and services," said Council President Theo Gregory.
"The change we need cannot be executed by me alone. It takes all of us. This change depends on my administration, all city employees, and every resident of this city working with city council, the businesses and faith community. We all have a part to play," Williams said during his address.
City council members expect to vote on a final budget once hearings end in May.