Wilmington Mayor presents FY2024 budget to City Council
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki presented his 2024 budget proposal to city council on Thursday night.
Purzycki’s budget proposal totals around $183 million - up around $6.2 million or 3.5% from the current budget. It includes a 5.7% increase to water and sewer rates and a 6% increase in stormwater rates – amounting to around an extra $3.70 in residents’ monthly bills.
Purzycki says water and sewer rates will likely require increases fairly regularly due to the aging infrastructure.
“A reality we must get used to is that, based on the long-term capital needs of our aging sewer and water infrastructure, without external revenue sources, our water fund will require increasing rates on a fairly regular basis," he says.
There are no proposed increases to the property tax rate, after a 6% increase last year. Purzycki says the city will escape deficits in FY24 and 25, but warns the bills come due in 2026.
“To this end, we will ask Council to approve three new sources of revenue," Purzycki says. "A $1 ticket tax on all events in the City, an increase in our hotel tax from 2% to 3%, and an overall increase in fees. The effect of these revenue increases will be almost $4 million annually and get us closer to long-term financial viability.”
Purzycki touted the city’s accomplishments this year, like a 17-year low in violent crime. He says while the nation's cities in 2022 experienced a drop of 6% from the previous year, Wilmington saw a 62% drop in homicides, "almost exclusively through the work of [the] police department."
He says the administration will also continue to work with Council regarding police methods and practices.
"Our commitment to civilian oversight of our police department is strong, but limited by the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights and changes proposed in Dover," Purzycki says. "We are making progress, nonetheless, in building confidence between our officers and the public they serve."
He also mentioned efforts to redevelop crumbling neighborhoods, and build new ones too.
Since Purzycki won the Mayor’s seat, he says they’ve built 2400 new apartment units, with 1000 more under construction, all without displacing a single resident.
Purzycki notes the Rodney Reservoir as one example of a city property needing attention.
"It has been an unsafe, unsightly, and poorly maintained structure for far too long," he says. "We intend to demolish the reservoir and transform the site into a beautiful City park."
And, Wilmington is closely reviewing the fairness and inclusivity of the government's procurement process, to make sure that minority and women-owned businesses have an opportunity to bid for City-issued proposals for goods and services.
He adds Wilmington is becoming a tourist destination – repeatedly featured in regional magazines for the city’s restaurants, hotels, and amenities, and featured by Code Nast as one of its 23 best cities to visit.