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Wilmington City Council passes 2025 budget, water, sewer, and stormwater rates increase

Delaware Public Media

Wilmington City Council passes a budget for the coming fiscal year.

The nearly $194 ($193.9 ) million budget is a 6.2 percent increase from this year with no property tax increases, but water and sewer fees increase by 5.8 percent and stormwater fees by 4 percent. This year’s Water/Sewer/Stormwater Utility Budget is $90.1 million.

Councilman Chris Johnson calls it one of the most expansive budget’s city council has approved, emphasizing $2.5 million going to the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, $1.5 million of which will fund the Home Repair Program.

“This is something that we have seen work in our communities across the city," Johnson says. "Every meeting we go to, people want to get in the application pool, we can’t give out enough, and we can’t work on the houses, frankly, fast enough.”

Johnson also highlights $100,000 included for a pilot program testing traffic calming devices in City neighborhoods.

Johnson notes this budget doesn’t include an EMS program – the city extended its contract with Trinity Health to provide ambulance services through the end of 2025, at a cost of $1.9 million.

"Council was adamant that with the change in administration, we thought creating a new EMS program may need to happen. But it is something that is very costly, very expensive, and we need to d it in a thoughtful way," Johnson says.

Councilmember Shané Darby and Council President Trippi Congo voted no in the budget – Councilmember Vincent White voted ‘present’ in order to “avoid any conflict or potential conflict,” and the other 11 council members voted yes.

White says council’s responsibility is not just to pass a budget, but to oversee where every penny goes.

“We, council, should be more collaborative," White says. "We need to step up our oversight authority and we should not just put this in a drawer until this time next year. So I just hope that council would extend their fiduciary responsibility, and looking at the details of how this money is spent, when it is spent, and how it benefits the community.”

Councilmember Michelle Harlee notes some of those details include leftover money from last-year’s budget that hasn’t been spent yet, particularly in the Neighborhood Stablization Fund. She adds $200,000 is still available for water utility assistance, and they are adding another $100,000 in this budget.

“We really would love for our constituents to take advantage of those funds," Harlee says. "Around water, first-time home buyers, and also as it relates to our small minority businesses.”

Personnel costs grew by $2 million, and budget increases for police and fire sworn personnel is $5 million. The new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police also includes retention bonuses for officers.

Healthcare costs are expected to decrease by $1.1 million as the city will no longer provide coverage to employees’ spouses who are eligible for subsidized medical coverage through their employers.

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.