I have a layman’s grasp of Kent County’s annual budget process. I attend most commissioner meetings and one recent cycle, I even attended every one of their afternoon budgeting sessions.
I’ve observed in detail how Mr. Pickrum, Mr. Fithian, and Mr. Short weigh and assess each department’s request and understand why they have such a difficult—maybe impossible—task: Compromising on a county budget that does not, and cannot, satisfy every need.
However, the commissioners’ proposed Fiscal 2019 budget is self-described as stressing “Economic Development” first and “Education” second. Why?
Kent County cannot assemble a successful economic development strategy/program without first guaranteeing that our public school system is fully funded:
- Even if this means the commissioners must allocate more than 38 percent of the total county budget to the public schools.
- Even if this means the commissioners must reduce spending elsewhere.
- Even if this means the commissioners must increase the county property tax.
If the commissioners fully fund basic public services—public education, public safety, and public health—we can be assured that steady and healthy economic development can be a consequent result.
Grenville B. Whitman