New Castle County’s 2024 budget includes the first property tax reduction in 50 years.
The tax reduction comes in the form of an automatic 5% tax credit for those paying property taxes, said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.
“It’s the first decrease, we’re being told, since this form of government was created in the 1960s,” Meyer said.
That decrease in taxes will cost the county about $4.6 million over the next year, which they plan to pay from county reserves, which total $155 million. The money is expected to come from the stabilization reserve.
Meyer said the county chose 5% to strike a good balance.
“We want to give a homeowner something substantive but we continue to have an outlook that preserves our ability to address crises, to provide quality services,” Meyer said. “So you don’t want to give so much back that you deplete your reserves and you have no money to do basic government services.”
Meyer hopes that tax collections will be higher next year so they don’t have to use reserves, but says the county is ready to do it, if it’s needed.
“If our collections are better than expected, if we can realize cost savings in other places, we can realize a million dollars in cost savings in our operations of the parks or our libraries,” he said. “We might say, ‘Hey, instead of taking $4.6 million out of reserves, why don’t we take $3.6 million.”
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The 2024 budget anticipates the county will make $138,965,000 from real property taxes over the next year.
In the 2023 proposed budget, they anticipated they would make $137,327,000 from real property taxes.
Meyer submitted his 2024 fiscal year budget March 28. The county council unanimously passed May 23. Meyer signed it May 25.
The operational budget is $331,422,408, a 3.99% increase from the 2023 fiscal year. The proposed capital budget, which includes both general fund and sewer fund projects, totals $75,098,163.
Meyer said the budget helps to enhance services offered by the county.
“We managed to add amenities like pickleball courts, enhancing softball courts, investing in a new indoor track, which would be the only indoor track in Delaware,” Meyer said. “And building a new library, offering the largest increases in county history to police, paramedics, 911 operators. We’re excited about those things.”
Specifically, the budget invests in the Delcastle Park softball field complex, Surrate Park Pool, adding a second turf soccer field at Banning Park and adding 25 new pickleball courts in New Castle County parks.
The budget also includes plans for a new Newark library and funding the lead hazard reduction plan.
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