Dennis Williams is being sworn in this morning as the new Mayor of Wilmington. As the NJ notes this morning, Williams’ is behind the curve in filling out leadership positions (he started in August) and a handful of folks I know working for the city don’t know what jobs they are expected to do.
In the meantime, Williams knows enough about how he wants to expand the Executive Office to have proposed increasing the cost of this office by $470,000. This expansion comes as the city is facing its own fiscal cliff — or at least a million dollar for the coming fiscal year. According to the NJ:
Even with a projected 15 percent tax hike, Wilmington is still facing an anticipated deficit close to $1 million in the next fiscal year, Sears said. The deficit is projected to grow the three years after that, from $3 million in 2015 to $5.5 million in 2016 to $8.1 million in 2017, Sears said.
This 15% tax hike was floated by Bill Montgomery and seems to be an item of faith within the city. Williams committed to not raising taxes while on the campaign trail. So how do you ask for an almost half million dollar operating budget increase when facing this kind of deficit and you aren’t planning on raising taxes? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t count on the City Council (other than Bud Freel) to put this thing through the wringer and do what is best for taxpayers. I’m betting that the City Council will just rollover on this increase (except for Bud Freel) and work to figure out how taxpayers can be on the hook for an expansion of a city government that is pretty big in the first place.
It is important to pay for the government that we want. It is also important to *deliver* the government that we want and it is pretty plain to me that there isn’t much clamoring for adding more executive staff or paying executive staff more money in the city — certainly not without some demonstrated serious improvement in the current operation. And when you are turning over staff, the odds are you will pay more in salary to new hires. But this increase also includes new staff — a thing that I’d think would be alot smarter to do once we are all clear on what we can actually afford in terms of new staff.
And while I’m at it — it is interesting to me that both Wilmington and the State of Delaware finds cause and rationale to increase the salaries of its executive corps. It is almost as though collective bargaining works if the Chief Executive goes to bat for you, but heaven help your salary and collective bargaining position if you aren’t in that Executive’s inner circle.
Williams gives his inaugural speech at tonight’s City Council swearing in. The festivities are at The Grand and start at 6:30 (the reception) and the swearing in begins at 8PM. I think that WDEL usually broadcasts the swearing in and inauguration speeches if you don’t want to go to The Grand.