New Castle, DE – New Castle County officials today announced new initiatives to improve revenue collection as part of ongoing efforts to restore fiscal responsibility and address a structural General Fund budget deficit that is projected to surpass $20 million and exhaust the county’s tax stabilization reserve fund by 2020.
Property taxes are New Castle County’s single largest source of revenue and funds nearly two-thirds of its General Fund operating expenses. This past fall, the County’s Finance Department initiated a program to improve collections of short-term delinquent property taxes – those 1 to 45 days past due. Following the annual property tax payment deadline, County Finance Department staff made individual contacts with taxpayers, including phone calls, to alert them to their balance and to arrange payment. That outreach increased property tax payments by $1.5 million, cutting the short-term delinquency rate in half.
The New Castle County current fiscal year (Fiscal Year 2018) budget anticipates $114.5 million in property tax revenue.
“I am proud of the work our Finance Department staff has done to enhance our collection efforts over the past year,” said Chief Financial Officer Brian Maxwell.
Additionally, this winter New Castle County established a partnership with three area school districts to improve collection of long-term delinquent property taxes. School taxes account for 80% of the average property tax bill in New Castle County, and this new collaboration through a third party vendor is expected to increase payments to schools and to the county, while also sharing administrative expenses.
“Everyone in our community must pay their fair share,” said County Executive Matt Meyer. “If you do not pay, we provide you this one last notice that you can no longer avoid your obligations. We will hold you accountable.”
County taxpayers can view their property tax delinquency status by looking up their property on the County’s Parcel Search webpage at www.nccde.org/parcelsearch. Taxpayers with questions about overdue county tax payments can contact the county Finance Department customer service line at 302-323-2600.
In addition to the collection initiatives outlined above, the Meyer Administration is taking action to collect county fees, including a stepped up effort to require owners to pay for expenses to maintain their abandoned and vacant properties that destabilize neighborhoods and lead to blight and higher crime. The Administration’s vacant housing initiative, which established new registration requirements for abandoned properties, imposed additional fees and set new authority to accelerate sales of long-abandoned sites, has had an immediate effect. The initiative has increased the number of registered vacant properties to 1,600 countywide and resulted in initial payments of $50,000 in enhanced fees and reimbursement for maintenance and enforcement expenses.
Finally, this week the County Finance Department announced the latest update to the innovative Open Checkbook, the first transparent posting of all expenditures in New Castle County history. Launched by County Executive Meyer last July, the fully searchable website connects the public with detailed expenditure data across county departments and features interactive tools that allow users to browse and analyze information through maps, charts, and graphs. It provides information through a searchable database that allows users to view, sort and download information by county department, vendor, category, and fund. This week, the Open Checkbook was updated to include financial transactions through December 31, 2017.
Source: New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer’s Office