The Scam of Wilmington Property Tax Increases

Filed in Delaware by on May 20, 2014

You may have heard that the Mayor’s office and the City Council have reached a compromise on the city budget. I think that it is the Mayor and Council President Theo Gregory who have reached the compromise, since no Council votes have been taken yet. Forgetting that detail, the 9.9% Hair on Fire increase (this was the one that if they didn’t get it, they wouldn’t be able to maintain city services — even though this tax increase would cover the current budget shortfall enough to produce an almost $3M budget surplus. Now, the “compromise” is a 5% property tax increase that leaves the city with a $1.4M surplus. The Water and Sewer rates are being reduced to 5% increases each (from 8% and 7% respectively), and the City will still not be paying its share of these bills.

Wilmingtonians, are you feeling played yet? Your government tells you with a straight face that they will need to severely cut back on services if it doesn’t get a 9.9% tax increase — even though that increase left them with a surplus. Now you get a “compromise” being promoted that bravely claims that all services will be saved, you get to pay more taxes still and there is still a surplus. The city already has various “Rainy Day Funds” and one of them was just tapped to cover the overtime the city incurred for all of this winter’s snow removal. Overtime that they locked in by closing the city’s offices at the drop of a hat. None of the surplus funds will be used to replenish any of these funds. What will the surplus be used for? Maybe the Mayor and City Council know.

A tax increase to close a budget gap is one thing. A tax increase to create a slush fund is something else altogether. The Water and Sewer Fund is basically a user fee and the fund was badly depleted — given the need to upgrade the infrastructure and to maintain clean water, this one is less hard to take. But for the city to expect the rest of us to subsidize their water bill is ridiculous. Especially since there are people who have lost their homes over unpaid water bills.

Then we have the little discussed fact that the City borrowed $4M that was handed over to the Wilmington Housing Partnership to by properties on the East Side. And no one knows how they are spending some other real estate funds, yet they are asking the property tax payers of the city to fund a slush fund.

So will the City Council get 7 votes to pass this mess? Check out this vapid bit of business from the NJ article and you tell me:

Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker said Monday afternoon she’s not a fan of tax increases but knows “it takes money to move government forward.” She said she’s also glad the council’s compromise doesn’t call for cuts in city services.

The Councilwoman seems to think that unnecessary tax increases on her constituents will get her to the State Senate.


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"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas." -Shirley Chisholm

Comments (6)

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  1. cassandra m says:

    And there’s more.

    The Williams Administration is still saying that layoffs are still possible — while they have 80 vacant (but funded!) positions AND they are looking to get $1.4M in a slush fund.

    Then there’s this weak tea from Council President Theo Gregory:

    “That’s the reason I said these decisions have to be made before the budget,” Gregory said. “The budget process is not the time to do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of transforming and reforming city government. That needs to be done in September, October, November. Then when you start your budget process, you fold your budget back into the new framework you set up for city government.”

    The budget process is pretty much the City Council’s best leverage to make change. And Gregory is abandoning all of that leverage. Who thinks that they’ll pay attention to “transformation” when the Administration already has a budget and doesn’t need the City Council to do whatever they think they are going to do?

  2. Dorian Gray says:

    As a resident of the city I’ll say this… I feel exactly the same way about this story as I do about the Markell ex-staffers making money on that collection contract. And it’s the same way I feel about Obama continuing the Bush era surveillance state measures. And it’s the same way I feel about every fucking member of Congress making millions in the lobbying game after leaving office. And it’s the same way I feel about state and local governments spending money on SWAT teams and tanks. And it’s the same way I feel about the sweetheart private prison contracts in place to ensure low-level nonviolent drug offenses get manadatory prison time. And it’s the same way I feel about the DoJ fining banks rather than getting grand jury indictments. Nothing like paying a fine out of your illegal proceeds!

    It’s all a fucking scam. Once one is in a position to insulate oneself, she or he will exploit any loophole, skate along any edge, tell all manner of lies… I’m surprised you’re surprised… The difference between the goverment and the mafia is very, very slight.

  3. citydem says:

    The problem with Mr. Gregory response- there is no- one on the other side of the isle -that did the “heavy lifting” – prior to the budget presentation – keeping the Finance Chair in the loop throughout the year – might be a good start. Theo and the Council didn’t want to spend the political capital to do what the City Administration failed and fails to do – let’s tax instead

  4. Dana says:

    I hereby welcome y’all to the TEA Party!

  5. cassandra_m says:

    citydem is right. There was no heavy lifting to try to queue up the budget in a form that starts making some long term change. The big difference between this year’s budget and last year’s is that Gregory and Williams meet on a more regular basis. That’s where the heavy lifting should have started, instead of agreeing on this bit of bamboozlement.

  6. Erik says:

    If you want change, then change who represent you in government! These council members have proven track records that show they are out for themselves, but the citizens of Wilmington keep voting them into office. Some will even move up the political chain to bigger offices and corruption!! You reap what you sow!!