Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Looking to future, Wilmington mayor proposes tax increase

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki is calling for a 7.5 percent property tax hike based on future budget projections.

Mayor Purzycki released his annual budget proposal Thursday. The $176.9 million spending plan is a 2.4 percent increase over the current budget.

It includes a property tax increase - the second in six
years. Purzycki points to declining revenues sparked by the pandemic. He says more people working from home means lower wage tax collections and a decrease in red light camera fines.

Mayor Mike Purzycki gives a virtual budget address to members of Wilmington City Council
Mayor Mike Purzycki gives a virtual budget address to members of Wilmington City Council

He adds the increase is necessary even as federal dollars will plug a $7.8 million deficit next year.

"But a sensible look down the road reveals an untenable deficit in years to come if we are not prudent today. Deferring tough decisions would conceivably result in a $40 million cumulative deficit through FY 2026, and a fund balance bordering on insolvency," he said in a virtual address to City Council.

The Mayor’s office says the property tax increase will mean the average homeowner will pay an additional $52.

He’s also proposing a five percent increase in water and sewer rates due to increases in the cost of chemicals and other operating costs.

His proposal also eliminates 14 city jobs, including seven in the police department that are currently vacant. He praised the department for its work to reduce violent crime down to levels not seen since before 2015.

"The members of the WPD have done an outstanding job catching those who commit unthinkable violence and taking guns off the streets. I have no intention of limiting their ability to perform their difficult tasks by further reducing their ranks. Hopefully there will be a day when the department can function with less, but today is not that day," he said.

He adds appointments to a citizen review board that will examine police misconduct are forthcoming.

The City Council will hold hearings on the proposed budget starting at the end of the month before voting on a new budget in May.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.