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New Castle County Council offers mixed reaction to Meyer's proposed budget

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer delivers his proposed FY2025 budget address to a packed council chambers.
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer delivers his proposed FY2025 budget address to a packed council chambers.

New Castle County Council offers mixed reviews of County Executive Matt Meyer’s final budget address.

Councilman Penrose Hollins calls it a “home run.”

“Examples that have been set by people that work for this county, our police department, our paramedics with the whole blood program, I think about the Hope Center, those kind of things to me means more about performance, what are we doing, not so much about the numbers, but about the performance," Hollins says. "So that was a high mark for me when the County Executive mentioned those kinds of activities that are going on, what are we giving back?”

Hollins says seeing the result of the numbers makes it easier to debate during the budget process – knowing what works and what doesn't.

Meyer’s $342.5 million 2025 operating budget plan is a three percent increase from this year, with no property tax or sewer fee increases.

Councilman John Cartier says he is happy to see no increases for a seventh year in a row - and says that should continue given the county’s strong financial reserves.

He also supports Meyer’s proposal to raise police salaries by 10 percent across the board and boost officers' starting salary from $63,000 to $72,000.

“That is certainly going to be a cost factor in this county government going forward," Cartier says. "But we have to recruit police, we are in a very competitive job market and I think it’s wise to make some move to increase our salaries so we remain competitive in hiring candidates for policing.”

But Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle says some issues could arise as federal ARPA money runs out, noting Meyer has expanded county government.

“How are we going to pay for that? You don’t want to pay for it with reserves because this is something that we need to be able to bring in taxes year after year. So we don’t want to get fooled by that, because we saved a lot of money using ARPA money.”

Hartley-Nagle adds the county’s real estate transfer tax is also going down, and she wants to focus on core county services rather than funding “state issues.”

"We could find ourselves in the next administration as we go into 2024-25, and having a real problem," she says.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.