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4/15/2009
Councilman Weiner: "Cut the fat in the Recorder of Deeds budget!" - Community News

Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham) said things are different now.

"We wanted to send a strong message that this is not business as usual now," he said.

Weiner said he was concerned primarily with the Recorder of Deeds' budget, an office he said has seen its workload cut nearly in half as the housing market has slowed, yet has not shed any staff.

He said he'd like to possibly see two people moved from the Recorder of Deeds Office to the Register of Wills Office, which he says is short-staffed.

 "The bottom line is deaths aren't affected by the economy, but home sales are," he said.

By Jesse Chadderdon
Community News
Posted Apr 15, 2009 @ 02:13 PM

Wilmington, Del. —

Legislation calling on New Castle County's Row Offices to comb their budgets to find more savings was defeated by a split county council on Tuesday night.

Council voted 7-6 against the non-binding resolution.

Councilman William Tansey (R-Greenville) said he brought the bill forward after a contentious budget hearing a few weeks ago where the four row offices - the Recorder of Deeds, Clerk of the Peace, Register of Wills and Sheriff - all presented their 2010 budget proposals to council.

"They were asked to make 8 percent budget cuts [from last year] and none of them did that," Tansey said. "I recognize that the cost of benefits going up threw everything off kilter, but come on."

But others thought the bill was unnecessary.

"I thought our message was sent loud and clear at the budget hearing," said Councilman David Tackett (D-Christiana). "And really the resolution has no force of law. It's just a nice pretty please and we don't have the power under state law to demand they do it."

Clerk of the Peace Ken Boulden, whose 2010 proposed budget represents a $23,590 increase over 2009's $536,045, said rising health insurance and benefits costs are to blame for canceling out previous cuts. Any additional cuts would hinder the services his office provides, he said.

"This has been an ongoing process we've been involved in for months," he said. "And I have to be honest, I don't know what's left to cut. We're talking about a bare bones budget as it is now."

Boulden said it's the first time in his memory that the council has attempted to make the Row Offices revisit their budgets.

But Councilman Robert Weiner (R-Chatham) said things are different now.

"We wanted to send a strong message that this is not business as usual now," he said.

Weiner said he was concerned primarily with the Recorder of Deeds' budget, an office he said has seen its workload cut nearly in half as the housing market has slowed, yet has not shed any staff.

He said he'd like to possibly see two people moved from the Recorder of Deeds Office to the Register of Wills Office, which he says is short-staffed.

"The bottom line is deaths aren't affected by the economy, but home sales are," he said.

Recorder of Deeds Michael Kozikowski said he initially trimmed 8.8 percent from 2009's $2.6 million budget before the county was forced increased its benefits compensation. In a letter to council, he outlined some of the cuts his office has made.

"Of any of the departments in New Castle County, we've probably been the most transparent and most fiscally responsible," Kozikowski said. "So I sent them the letter to try to give them a clearer understanding of what we've done here."

Tackett said his vote against the resolution should not be mistaken for satisfaction with the budgets of the Row Offices.

"My hope would be that they come back to us with some ideas before we have to finalize our budget so it doesn't come down to a showdown," he said.
 

THE VOTE
YES (6): Cartier, Hollins, Sheldon, Street, Tansey, Weiner
NO (7): Bell, Clark, Diller, Powers, Reda, Smiley, Tackett

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