It’s been a tough year in the world of municipal finance -- with the pandemic making it difficult if not impossible to predict how the economic crisis will affect localities. Nonetheless, the Wilmington City Council will vote Tuesday, June 16 on whether or not to adopt its proposed 2020-2021 fiscal year budget.
The initial proposed $206 million budget included road and infrastructure improvement projects, a transportation bond, and stronger affordable housing initiatives. But with COVID-19 causing uncertainty and possible revenue shortfalls ahead, Mayor Bill Saffo says city leaders had to cut those items.
Funds for law enforcement and emergency response services -- which make up 50% of the budget -- will stay the same. Mayor Saffo defended that decision, as nationwide protests against police brutality call for reducing funds for law enforcement:
“We haven't had any kind of discussion about cutting any kind of funding for policing until this incident that unfolded in Minneapolis with Mr. Floyd -- we haven't heard from any citizen in any of our budget discussions, any public hearings that we've had about the budget until these last two to three weeks.
Half of our city's budget goes to public safety. That is the number one service that cities provide. And more importantly, it's always been that way.”
The city council will meet at 6:30 to vote on the plan.