New Castle County’s budget for Fiscal 2017, adopted May 24 with County Council’s full support, represents a 4-percent growth from the current fiscal year, but continues County Executive Thomas P. Gordon’s historic record of fiscal responsibility.
He was the only two-term executive of New Castle County never to submit a budget plan with a tax increase. And when he was re-elected, becoming New Castle County’s only three-term executive in history, Gordon remained a record-setter by continuing to avoid a tax hike.
Twelve years of avoiding increases in taxes took determination and cooperation.
Gordon has focused on restructuring and streamlining, removing duplication, eliminating many positions and centralizing services – also creating a record surplus in his first term. He also clarified billing so residents could see their exact county and school taxes separately. In his second term, Gordon set and achieved an unprecedented fiscal goal, leading the county to the highest AAA bond rating by all top three Wall Street rating agencies.
As recession hit between Gordon’s terms, real estate transfer taxes collected by the county fell from $40 million a year to $15.8 million with property taxes flat at about $106 million.
After Gordon was re-elected, returning to office in 2012, he pressed department leaders to economize, increase efficiency and justify every cost. With frugality, emphasis on economic development and the recovering economy, the county has seen a slow, steady climb in real estate taxes and transfer tax recovery to a level shy of $27 million.
Gordon has kept the county’s AAA ratings while balancing the budget, which includes funding to add 15 police officers as well as other important investments: