WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

A tale of a city & a county: What would happen if Mayor Williams & County Executive Gordon swapped positions?

Addresses this week from New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams will only accentuate the fundamental economic divide between the city and the county.

Mayor Williams told Peter & Mellany this morning that he will seek a 9.9 percent tax increase to continue vital services. Otherwise, Wilmington faces cuts in services AND a million-dollar deficit.

Meanwhile, County Executive Gordon says taxes will stay the same while expenditures increase by roughly 2.3 percent. And The NEWS JOURNAL reports county officials anticipate a surplus of nearly eight-and-half million dollars ($8.4 million) by the conclusion of the fiscal year, a complete fiscal reversal for the county, which seemed to headed to a two-million-dollar shortfall. About a million bucks is the result of savings from not filling vacant positions.

Here's my challenge to you: Does this fractured tale of the city and the county simply reflect the vastly greater resources of the county, coupled with the need to provide fewer services than the city does? Do Wilmington's needs simply overwhelm the city's capacity (not helped by inability to annex surrounding territory; that's how many Southern cities have gotten by)?

Let me reduce this to these most basic questions: What would happen if Tom Gordon and Dennis Williams switched positions? Whether by hook or by crook, by using mirrors, etc., would Gordon be able to achieve similar "miracles" at the city level? Conversely, would Williams as county executive be able to achieve similar results to Gordon? (Remember, they ran as a team!) In other words, is each man constrained - or empowered - by the notably different circumstances of city and county?

Alternatively, if the city still has hidden (or not so hidden) wasteful positions and expenditures, politically, would attacking the remaining waste inevitably cost the mayor such support as to automatically make him/her a lame-duck, one-termer?

Posted at 2:52pm on March 25, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Mar 25, 2014 7:42pm
My guess is that Gordon has connections that Williams doesn't.
Whether or not those connections are legitimate is another soap opera altogether.

Wed, Mar 26, 2014 7:52am
Remember when Mr. Williams won the election and said he was surprised at how large the city budget was? This was a mayor in the Obama mode. Clueless. He had never even looked at the budget prior to his election.

Tom Gordon would make Wilmington fiscally sound, while Mr. Williams would destroy NCCo finances.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Mar 26, 2014 8:24am
Allan: Please quit bringing up Wilmington annexing anything. Those of us who live in the "older suburbs" that surrond Wilmington are glad that wreck of a city can't annex us and force us to be a part of it. If that were to happen, I'd put my house up for sale and move.

Realize the DuPont Experimental Station borders the city line [the city limits on on the other side of the Brandywine River at that point - Rockford Park backs up to the Ex Station]. So IF the city annexed the Ex Station, then the bigger question would be, would DuPont keep that facility operating, or would the ton-of-taxes dump on that company, by the city, force it to relocate that facility overseas with the loss of thousands of jobs to the local economy?

The city government has been a mess for many years, and, unless Tom Gordon could clean out all the cronies and cronism, redo the various union contracts, etc., etc., he'd not be able to do what he seems very able to do in the county.

Consider this... we ended up getting busing forced on the county, because the city of Wilmington school district couldn't do a reasonable job educating its students, even though their teachers were being paid more. The cost to educate city students was higher, yet worse results. Where was all that extra money being spent? More likely, in whose pockets was that extra money going? So this isn't a new problem.

So NO, to Wilmington ever being able to annex anything. They've created the mess they've got; they can pay to fix it. Why should anyone of us in the glorious suburbs want to pay way more taxes to fix up a mess that we didn't create, and had no say in it being created? No thank you.

The plan for getting middle-class young folks to move into the city in those expensive highrise apartments is the one thing the city can do to help its fiscal bottom line, but until they fix all those problems mentioned earlier, they'll soon spend all that extra revenue too, and whose pocket will be getting all that new money?

Allan Loudell
Wed, Mar 26, 2014 8:33am
Mike from Delaware---

Relax. Just because I say it in passing doesn't mean it's ever going to happen.

But, yes, I feel obligated to note that Wilmington is denied something that has allowed some other cities to prosper.

Furthermore, those extra people (and businesses) within the city limits might change the political culture of the city more to your liking. But again, it's all theoretical!

Allan Loudell

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