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Wilmington’s Fiscal Year 2024 Operating and Water/Sewer Budgets are Approved; Both Become Effective on July 1

May 19, 2023

Wilmington’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Operating Budget of $182.6 million was approved tonight by Wilmington City Council by a vote of 9 to 3 with one member voting present and the Water/Sewer Utility Budget of $84.5 million was adopted by a vote of 10 yes, two no and one member voting present. The Operating Budget is just 3.3% higher than the current budget, and Mayor Mike Purzycki had already announced in March when he proposed the budget that no property tax increase would be needed to balance the new budget. Water/sewer rates will increase by 5.7% in FY 2024 and stormwater rates will increase by 6%.

The new Operating Budget includes approximately $5 million from the Tax Stabilization Reserve to continue the Purzycki Administration and City Council goals of stabilizing and developing neighborhoods ($4 million, which includes $1 million to the Wilmington Landbank) and assisting local businesses to start up, grow and prosper ($1 million to the City’s Office of Economic Development Strategic Fund). The FY 2024 budget also includes:

File Photo: Mayor Mike Purzycki gives remakes during a celebration of the passage of S.914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 Monday. May 3, 2021; at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wilmington, DE. Photo By Saquan Stimpson

•$250,000 to provide payment assistance to individuals who cannot pay their water bills; the City had been using ARPA funding for this program for the past few years but has now appropriated funds from the City’s water utility to keep this important program in force.

•$250,000 to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers who want to call Wilmington their home. (This program is income limited.)

•$200,000 to continue work on the citywide Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Title II Transition Plan so that every person has the ability to function without obstacles and to enjoy services and events provided on public lands and sidewalks and in public buildings.

•$250,000 to support the Wilmington Police Department’s Neighborhood Camera Safety Program; currently, there are one hundred neighborhood cameras in place.

•$150,000 for the Land Use and Planning Department to conduct, for the first time in 55 years, a comprehensive zoning code review and update.

•$482,000 to the Department of Information Technology (IT) to support new computer software and software licensing, additional cloud data backup services, and allow for the digitizing of all records of the Land Use and Planning Department and the Licenses and Inspections Department, thereby improving efficiency in storing, documenting, and retrieving information.

•A half-million dollar decrease in Water/Sewer Utility legal fees from $700,000 to $200,000, or just over 71%. The substantial decrease is due to the fact that legal proceedings against the New Castle County government (wastewater treatment contract) and Honeywell International Inc. (breach of contract regarding the City’s renewable energy bio-solids facility) have been settled.

The Mayor tonight thanked City Council for approving a balanced budget, as required by law, which will enable the City to maintain its programs and services at their current levels in pursuit of what the Mayor said is a “safe, healthy, and prosperous City for our children to grow up in” and reach their full potential. He also thanked his Chief of Staff Tanya Washington, staff from the Office of Management and Budget, and his Department Directors for collaborating throughout the annual budgeting process, which stretches across at least six months of the year.

Mayor Purzycki said the budget choices for this year have been easier than those that will face the Administration and Council in the next few years. He said Wilmington’s future is bright and will remain so as long as the City’s leaders have the courage to deal with future challenges responsibly.

Download a copy of the new budget summary here.