Headlines March 22, 2022
Here are some of the top stories we’re following for Tuesday March 22, 2022.
Damian Giletto, Wochit
New Castle County residents won’t face a tax hike next year, according to the spending plan unveiled by County Executive Matt Myer Tuesday night.
Meyer’s proposed budget of $318.7 million for fiscal 2023 represents a 2.28% increase from last year’s budget of $310 million and emphasizes investments in parks and conservation, affordable housing and community resources, including libraries and Mental Health Support.
While last year’s budget called for a $24 increase in resident sewer fees, there will be no increase for the coming fiscal year.
Based on resident feedback, the budget proposes the following additions to county parks:
- More pickleball courts including eight being added at Glasgow Park this year.
- Improved play equipment, with more play structures being replaced each year.
- The repaving of paths, including the heavily used Delcastle Park verge path.
Along with new park features, the budget includes an emphasis on preserving land “like never before,” Meyer said.
A new county park in southern New Castle County, previously announced, will break ground north of Middletown this fall.
In 2023, the county will allocate $2.5 million to conservation. The county recently partnered with Delaware Wildlands to preserve over 240 acres of wildlife habitat and fertile farmland in southern New Castle County.
Meyer provided his virtual address of the newly constructed Appoquinimink library, which will open in three months with a “teen room”, conference rooms and computers for community use and programming for all ages.
Appoquinimink library details: Middletown Library is scheduled to open in 2022 and will feature a sleek, eco-friendly design
New Castle County’s library system welcomed half a million new visitors last year, and Meyer highlighted an upcoming capital project to expand the Newark Library.
The county’s Vacant Spaces Livable Places initiative has converted about 800 vacant residential properties into livable apartments, representing a 59% decrease in vacant properties in the region.
“For neighborhoods, this means moving from vacant eyesore to well-maintained and occupied homes,” Meyer said.
More: The mayor of Wilmington presents a “disciplined” budget that includes tax hikes and job cuts
Since 2019, the New Castle County Mental Health Department has responded to 1,120 911 calls, preventing 197 people from being arrested and 369 people hospitalized.
Alongside these efforts, the Hero Help program has helped people dealing with substance abuse get help. 593 people have participated in the program and attended over 1600 treatment appointments.
As the county records a third straight year of declines in fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses, the New Castle County Police Department will receive an additional $749,000 in federal support for the Department of Mental Health.
Towards the end of his address, Meyer acknowledged the lives lost to the pandemic, many of which received no burial or memorial. A memorial service for anyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19 will be held at Glasgow Park on May 11.
During the pandemic, the county has conducted 390,869 COVID tests at 483 testing events, with one million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) distributed to nonprofits and nursing homes, 196,710 free at-home testing kits distributed to community residents, and innovative teaching grants to 1,617 teachers distributed.
New Castle County has also partnered with Delaware State University to build a genomics lab on Kirkwood Hwy. for COVID-19 testing that will be used for other health and research purposes in the years to come.
“We’ve turned a corner” with a drop in confirmed positive COVID cases, hospital admissions and looking to a brighter post-COVID world, he said.