Posted: July 1, 2003


Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker said the City took a positive step forward today in resolving its deep-rooted structural budget problems when it received authority from the Delaware General Assembly to generate much needed new revenue.

Five bills enabling Wilmington to collect additional revenue from a share of corporate filing fees, a lodging tax, a franchise tax on natural gas, and an events tax have been sent to Governor Minner for her signature. 

“I send my deepest appreciation to the Governor, to the General Assembly, to Wilmington City Council, and to private citizens who took time to meet with us and review our financial information to understand the City’s strong financial management structure and our lack of authority to raise enough revenue to fund basic City services,” Mayor Baker said today.

“The additional revenue options will begin to address the City’s projected shorter-term fiscal year deficits. Most importantly, I see the process that led to passage of this legislation as an historic milestone for continued understanding and cooperation that will lead to the complete financial preservation of Wilmington, which is the economic base of Delaware’s economy.” 

Mayor Baker said he understands that there is still misunderstanding about City revenues and expenditures and why the gap between the two is projected to grow. “We have a lot of work to do to find additional options for revenue growth in Wilmington, but until that work is complete, the City Administration is prepared to take additional steps to improve Wilmington’s fiscal health and demonstrate a commitment to implementing improved fiscal management controls,” Mayor Baker said.  

The Mayor said today he and Wilmington City Council President Theodore Blunt would urge City Council support for:

 --Expansion of the authority of the Wilmington Economic and Financial Advisory Council (WEFAC) to conduct five-year projections for City revenue beyond the current authorized one-year revenue projection process.   

§         --Expansion of the City’s contract with Public Financial Management to conduct fiscal management reviews of a number of critical City functions to assist the City in seeking further expenditure reductions wherever possible.

§         --A phased-in spending cap of 98% on yearly City expenditures, similar to the State’s limit on yearly spending. 

Mayor Baker and Council President Blunt said they look forward to continuing to work with the Task Force on Revenue Options for the City of Wilmington that was established by Governor Minner earlier this year to explore solutions to the City’s revenue outlook.  

“Some two years ago, we began approaching people inside and outside of government and throughout Delaware about the importance of granting Wilmington its financial freedom,” Mayor Baker said.

 “Since that time, we have picked up believers who now support the notion that Wilmington must have a permanent and expanded revenue base from which to fund the government and support economic growth benefiting all of Delaware. I am very grateful for the support Wilmington has received and I pledge to do all that I can to demonstrate that we have been, and will continue to be, productive and imaginative managers of the people’s money.”