Released: December 4, 2020
During its Dec. 2 public meeting, Delaware County Executive Director Howard Lazarus introduced the FY 2021 budget, the first under the new majority that took office in January 2020. The new budget includes no new property tax revenue and makes critical investments in Delaware County’s future.
"This has been an incredibly challenging year for every resident, worker, business owner, and student in Delaware County," said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. "Despite the challenges, Delaware County is in an excellent position to emerge strongly from this pandemic because of the fundamental reforms and critical investments we have already made and will continue to make with the passage of this budget."
The 2021 budget is designed to make progress on three major goals: to make government more accessible and accountable, address inequity and create opportunity, and build a more sustainable future for Delaware County. The $355.2 Million budget represents a $2.9 Million decrease in the General Fund Budget from last year.
Among the changes the proposed budget invests in are:
Beginning as soon as the three newest members of Council took office in January 2020, the new majority began to implement the broadest ethics and government reform plans in the county's history. The County is moving aggressively to implement program and policy changes designed to make government more accessible and accountable, addressing longstanding inequity and creating new opportunities, and building a more diverse and sustainable future. Among the many changes are a new transparency around the budget and what it contains, as well as expanded opportunities for the public to offer their input. Delaware County residents, workers and business owners deserve the highest standard of County government.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Delaware County having its own health department to guide decision making and crisis response, planning for the creation of a new County Health Department began before the new majority took office in January 2020. During its transition, members of the current County Council began meeting with local experts, state decision-makers and regulators, and the community to develop a new County Health Department from the ground up, with a focus on public health, safety and equity. Despite the pandemic, the County’s Health Department is on track and is expected to be operational by the end of 2021.
As the County turns toward re-opening and creating a more equitable and sustainable post-COVID economy, Delaware County Council is focused on creating value and opportunity. From expanding the membership and diversity of the Economic Development Board to making an unprecedented county-level commitment to open space, trails and parks -- which create value for workers and businesses - to redirecting efforts toward the areas that will benefit the most, including the 291 Corridor and Chester Waterfront -- County Council is focused on building a new, more equitable, inclusive and sustainable economy.
Delaware County's prison houses individuals whose sentences range from a few days to two years, meaning inmates will soon return to our community. That disruption in their lives is an opportunity to break from dangerous past behavior and start a new life. The County prison should not be viewed as merely a cost center, that increases its profit the longer people are in jail, but rather a critical service provided to the county and its residents, and an integrated part of the County’s services aimed at building a healthier, safer and more vibrant community. That's why Council has moved to end the private management of the County prison and has formed a committee to oversee the transition and is hiring a transition manager to ensure such a large change is done in a safe and financially conscious way.
As a new majority took over in January and with the departure of 17 department directors, there was an opportunity to reevaluate what services Delaware County provides and ensure the County is operating with the highest level of professionalism and accountability. From creating the County's first full Human Resources Department to better recruit and train employees to ensuring that critical government services such as this year's elections work correctly to completing a court-ordered property tax reassessment, the new Council has been committed to improving operations and creating a more agile and responsive government.
The Proposed 2021 Budget can be found here: https://delcopa.gov/pdf/proposed2021budget.pdf
Residents are invited to offer public comment on the 2021 Budget. Public comments must be submitted with the same information that is requested at a public meeting including the person’s name and address. Emails can be sent immediately to: PublicComment@co.delaware.pa.us
Public comment will be accepted through the Dec. 8 public presentation. The public comments will be read into record during the meeting. If you do not have access to email you can call in your public comment: 610-891-4931. Please give your name, address and public comment. Your comment will be transcribed and read into record. Emailed or phoned-in comments deemed inappropriate will not be read into public record.
The second reading and final adoption of the 2021 budget will be held on Dec. 16 at 6:00 p.m. at the regularly scheduled County Council meeting. The meeting will be held virtually and streamed online.