Don Rush

It’s not too early to start looking at the budget options for Delaware lawmakers.

And, in an expectation of more continue tough financial times ahead legislators have scheduled some early meetings on how to deal with increased costs and an expected drop in revenue.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that state revenues are projected to be $55 million short of what was allocated for the fiscal year of 2014 that ends in June of next year.

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Good Samaritan

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Legislation encouraging people in Delaware to report alcohol and drug overdoses without fear of being prosecuted is about to become law.

The so-called Good Samaritan bill was to be signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jack Markell after winning unanimous approval in both the House and Senate.

Under the bill, a person reporting an overdose would be immune from prosecution for certain drug crimes even if he or she has been involved in drug-related activity.

Don Rush

The Salisbury City Council last night unanimously approved a $53 million budget that will raise property taxes for the first time in years.

The rate will go from $8.19 to $8.84 per $1000 of assessed property value.

The increase represents the revenue problem faced by Salisbury in the face of an 8 percent drop in the town’s property tax base due to the Great Recession.

There is a 2 percent pay raise for city employees and as well as money to maintain the pay increases for the police department.

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The Salisbury City Council is set to hold a final hearing tonight on the city’s $53 million budget that could include the town’s first property tax rate hike in years.

More than half of the nearly 11-thousand property owners would see an increase in their tax bills while the rest could see a slight decrease.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the rate will jump by 65 cents per $1-thousand of assessed property value just to keep the revenue from the property tax the same in the face of declining property values resulting from the Great Recession.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A draft spending plan for Dover closes a budget gap without tax or fee hikes.

The council is expected to take its first vote on the final draft of the $132 million budget for fiscal year 2014 on Wednesday.

The plan funds raises for nonunion workers and contractual pay increases for labor groups, includes water, sewer and street improvements and cuts municipal electric rates by 11 percent. Dover officials were able to wipe out a $719,000 deficit by not filling some vacant jobs.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the legislature's budget writing committee have wrapped up their work on a spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The $3.7 billion operating budget approved by the Joint Finance Committee on Thursday represents a 3.6 percent increase over the current year's budget and is about $6 million higher than the budget proposed by Gov. Jack Markell in January.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House and Senate are taking a break while legislative budget writers start nailing down a spending plan for next year.

The Joint Finance Committee meets Tuesday to begin marking up Gov. Jack Markell's proposed a $3.7 billion operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The mark-up process will continue for the next three weeks, and the House and Senate will reconvene June 4.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state House is poised to vote on Democratic Gov. Jack Markell's proposals to make several recession-era tax increases permanent.

The bills cleared a committee Wednesday and were scheduled for votes Thursday by the full House.

Two bills keep increases in corporate franchise and estate taxes, approved in 2009, from expiring after four years - as lawmakers had said they would.

Governor Martin O’Malley says his $37 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year would boost jobs and protect the state from the financial uncertainty of deep spending cuts being considered in Washington.

The Maryland Democrat plans to increase the state’s from 5 percent to 6 percent of the state’s $16 billion general fund.

This will result in a $153 million increase in the fund bringing it to $921 million.

All told this would leave the state with about a$1.1 billion in cash reserves to make any adjustments to any federal cuts.

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The state Senate has approved an operating budget of almost $3.6 billion for the fiscal year that starts Sunday.

The state Senate voted 16 to 4 Wednesday for the fiscal 2013 spending plan, which now goes to the House.

On a 5-to-2 vote the Wicomico County Council approved a $117 million budget for the 2013 fiscal year including $80-thousand to help teachers buy class room supplies.

In addition, there will be a 2 percent pay increase for Sheriff’s deputies under a collective bargaining agreement with no furloughs for county employees. 

Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development will get $20-thousand for a part-time office assistant and the State’s Attorney’s Office will receive $50-thousand for personnel.

The fire fighters will get an additional $42-thousand to pay for EMS personnel.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Members of the General Assembly's budget writing committee have wrapped up their work on an operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

With only a few minor details remaining, members of the Joint Finance Committee closed the books Monday on a $3.58 billion budget for fiscal 2013, $78 million above this year's budget and slightly higher than Gov. Jack Markell's proposed 2013 budget.

Somerset County Commissioners are set to adopt a $35.9 million spending plan that keeps the property tax rate at 88.37 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Property taxes make up the largest portion of revenues to the county at 39 percent of the budget.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the spending plan also includes $480-thousand to cover teacher retirements for the first time.

But that amount has been offset by an increase in the State disparity grant to the county which will rise from $4.9 million this year to $5.2 million next year.


The Wicomico County Council will make its annual trek outside its usual chambers to get public input on the local government’s budget.

Council President Joe Holloway told the Salisbury Daily Times that he expected a strong presence from the Board of Education and local residents.

In years past the public hearing has lasted hours with many coming up to the microphones to voice their concerns.

Last year the meeting drew 75 people with a contentious debate over the proposed 5-cent increase in property tax rate.

Ocean City’s 2013 fiscal budget that lowers the property tax rate by a penny and dips into the resort’s reserve funds to make up the difference got a slim majority of the Town Council.

Council members Jim Hall, Joe Hall, Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas cast their votes for the spending plan that includes A 45.85 cent tax rate on $100 of assessed property value.

Council members Lloyd Martin, Doug Cymek and Mary Knight opposed the budget saying they did not want to take the $860-thousand from the reserve fund.


The Wicomico County Council is set to take up the 2013 fiscal year budget on Tuesday night after a two week delay.

Among the cuts the County  liability for pensions that should produce a $767,000 savings.

The County Executive was given a delay in presenting the budget to assess the impact of the state’s budget problems.   


      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley says he accepts part of the blame for the breakdown that led to $512 million in cuts instead of new tax revenues and alternative savings in state spending.

     O'Malley, who spoke on WTOP Thursday, said "we all hold blame," referring to himself and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.


       RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Senate reconvenes Monday with expectations running high that it will finally pass a version of the state budget.

     The sticking point will be an amendment to be offered by Senate Democrats that would require insurance companies to pay for pre-abortion ultrasounds that will be mandatory under a Republican-backed law passed this year.

     The state would also pay the ultrasound costs for uninsured women.


     ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The House of Delegates will be working on the state's $35.9 billion budget.

     The House has scheduled two sessions for Thursday, as it considers amendments to a package of budget measures.

     One includes a scaled-back version of an income tax increase already approved by the state Senate.

     Another budget measure would phase in a split of teacher pension costs with the counties in three years, instead of four.


During tonight’s City Council meeting, a number of departments will be asking for money.

              The Salisbury Police Department is requesting appropriation of $21,000 to pay for emergency repairs to a police tower on Marine Road that was damaged by a lightning strike on Aug. 2, as well as budget amendment to transfer $1,400 earned through their ammunition recycling program from the General Fund into the Fire Department budget.