Letter to the Editor: Fund Schools to Advance Economic Development

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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.

Yours truly,

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall

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Letters to Editor

  1. Piers Heriz-Smith says:

    Bravo. All of what you said. The cart before the horse is a nearsighted and flawed approach. Surely a robust public school system pulls all else behind it.

  2. Francoise Sullivan says:

    So this is where we are folks, IF NOTHING CHANGES, we are looking at a $1-2 million shortfall to the FY20 budget and $2-3 million shortfall to the FY21 budget.

    KCPS CPA Jane Towers met with Kent County CFO Pat Merritt yesterday to discuss the KCPS FY19 budget. Ms. Towers put together projections based on the numbers that have been discussed at the CC meetings for KCPS.

    The two scenarios that Ms. Towers projected are for KCPS to continue to maintain a fund balance of $500k or to spend down to 0 as the County Commissioners have asked. Numbers given are based on projected enrollments and same level of funding.

    Scenario #1 – maintain $500k fund balance
    Carry over $695k fund balance to supplement the FY19 budget
    End FY19 with a fund balance of $100k
    Carry over that $100k to supplement the FY20 budget
    FY20 will have $1.1million expenses over revenues
    No FY20 fund balance to carry over to FY21
    FY21 will have $2.4million expenses over revenues

    Scenario #2 – spend down the fund balance
    Carry over $695k fund balance to supplement the FY19 budget
    End FY19 with a $24k fund balance
    Carry over that $24k to supplement the FY20 budget
    FY20 will have $1.8million expenses over revenues
    No FY20 fund balance to carry over to FY21
    FY21 will have $3.6million expenses over revenues

  3. Francoise Sullivan says:

    Alas, it was not to be Gren…

    It took less than a minute for our County Commissioners to make a motion and vote unanimously to approve the budget as is with no discussion. I guess they were saving their time for later when the virtues of having smooth roads in Kent County could be extolled.

    There was a glitch in the live feed from the 6/12/18 County Commissioners meeting so there are two videos from that feed available on the SOS YouTube channel –

    Part 1 – Beginning of meeting to start of Robbi Behr’s comment
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNToDkBH-IU

    Part 2 – Midway through Robbi’s comment, other speakers and comments from Pickrum at end of meeting
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk4axR1VpYM

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