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3/31/2009
County Council follows Councilman Weiner's lead in restoring the independent County Auditor's budget to keep county finances in check - Community News

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham) said council acted in haste [by ignoring his prior objections] by cutting the position initially, doing so without hearing from Wasserbach directly and not considering the importance of the auditor's job in keeping the county's finances in check.

"The auditor protects a quarter-billion dollar budget and you can't be penny-wise and pound foolish," he said.

NCCo Council reverses auditor staffing decision

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Mar 31, 2009 @ 08:30 AM
Last update Mar 31, 2009 @ 04:43 PM

Wilmington, Del. —

New Castle County Council reinstated an assistant auditor's position Monday, reversing a previous decision to strip the part-time position from Auditor Bob Wasserbach's budget.

The council voted unanimously after reviewing Wasserbach's 2010 budget to reinstate the position, which pays $33,500. Wasserbach has been lobbying the council for the last few weeks to get the position back. He said the help is needed if he's to complete all the audits he wants to next year.

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham) said council acted in haste by cutting the position initially, doing so without hearing from Wasserbach directly and not considering the importance of the auditor's job in keeping the county's finances in check.

"The auditor protects a quarter-billion dollar budget and you can't be penny-wise and pound foolish," he said.

The council also voted to keep Wasserbach's office at the government center in New Castle, rather than relocating him in Council Chambers at the Louis L. Redding City/County Building in Wilmington.

Some on council feared housing the auditor in their suite could lead some to question his impartiality.

"The independence of the auditor function has much greater value than the...savings we realize on paper," said Councilman Penrose Hollins (D-Wilmington North).

Wasserbach told the council he will try to cut more from his budget. He said he could likely forego money for contractual services now that he'll be able to hire a part-time assistant. He also said he plans to take 18 furlough days next year, which equals a 7 percent pay cut from his $110,000 salary.

Ultimately, Wasserbach hopes to finalize a budget that is roughly 10 percent smaller than 2009's $392,089 spending plan.

Meanwhile, the council had harsh words for several of the county row offices - the Sheriff's Office, Recorder of Deeds, Clerk of the Peace and Register of Wills. Like other county departments, the row offices were asked to submit budgets that were at least 8 percent smaller than last year's, but none did.

Recorder of Deeds Mike Kozikowski said his initial cuts were more than 8 percent, but increases to benefits brought that number back down to 4.5 percent.
At one point, he and Hollins got into a heated exchange over whether his budget went far enough.

"If that budget is presented to us on the 24 of May like it was today, there's going to be some problems," Hollins said.
The row offices, which earn revenue for the county, still have to do their part, he said.

"Everybody has to share the pain equally," Hollins said. "I understand that they generate revenue, but that's the nature of their jobs. It doesn't mean they work any harder than anyone else in any other department."

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