Council

Newark City Council endorsed a state bill that would allow school districts to raise taxes without a referendum.

Newark City Council made another foray into education politics last week, voting to endorse a controversial bill that would allow school districts to raise taxes without a referendum.

Council voted 5-2 to direct the city’s lobbyist, Rick Armitage, to lobby in support of HB 129, which was introduced last month by Rep. Earl Jaques along with Newark legislators Rep. Paul Baumbach and Sen. Dave Sokola.

The bill would allow school boards to raise school taxes each year by 2 percent or an amount equal to the consumer price index increase, whichever is lower. A referendum would still be required if districts sought a larger increase or for capital projects.

“When school districts ask for money in a referendum, they ask for more than what the immediate need is because they know how hard it is to pass referendums, and they can’t come every year with a referendum,” Jaques said. “With this other system, if you only ask for what you need when you need it, it will be less money in the long run.”

Council also endorsed Baumbach’s companion bill, HB 134, which would shorten the term for school board members from five years to three years as a way to give voters more say over the board members who would be empowered to raise their taxes.

“You can kick the bums out if you don’t like their actions,” noted Baumbach, who asked council to support the two bills.

Baumbach’s bill also establishes compensation for school board members — $100 per meeting, to be paid by the state.

City council has no regulatory power over the Christina School District and has historically shied away from getting involved in district matters. Over the last year, however, council has shown an increased willingness to broach the subject, as some members worry that Christina’s poor reputation will have a negative impact on Newark’s potential for economic development.

“People make a decision to live in our town or not live in our town because of the education system. When you see people who are moving south of here and paying higher taxes than we are to be in a different school district, that’s a concern to me,” Mayor Jerry Clifton said.

Councilwoman Jen Wallace said she hesitated to get involved in the business of another elected body but believes the two bills are important for education in Delaware.

“It’s outside my comfort zone, but I think it’s important,” Wallace said. “The schools impact quality of life here in Newark. While this legislation isn’t perfect and doesn’t address all the funding inequalities that exist, I think something needs to be done.”

(17) comments

Binnsbum

Throw the bums (PB) out but their policies will stay anyway. $ not going to fix CSD Jen! Wilmington schools immune from cuts so we will pay to improve Wilmington schools. How is that helping Newark?

Righteous One

Shame on Council and other duly elected representatives. The majority voted against the referendum, but as noted in national politics, no matter what the people want it is to be ignored BY DEMOCRATS. If the result doesn't fit their desire, well then, let's change the process so that we can get what we want despite the voters desire. We are doomed...doomed...we have no voice any more. Our reps no longer represent us and cannot disconnect themselves from their own opinion from the opinion of their voters.

Isaiah T

Here's an idea for you legislators (that's something you use your brain for, to solve a problem, ). Each year the legislators get money to hand out for pet projects in their districts. Sokola and Baumbach gave ~$200,000 (maybe more) for the pedestrian-bicycle bridge, certainly a special interest group project. How about if all the "walking around money" is taken away and used for education. If each legislator gets $100,000 that's $6 million every year that could go to the schools and lower the burden on the taxpayer.

Isaiah T

I love how these corrupt legislators just hand out OPM, other people's money. Each legislator gets an annual amount to disperse in their district for "pet projects" Baumbach and Sokola gave several hundred thousand to Newark's pedestrian-bicycle bridge. I cannot find how much "walking around money" each legislator gets but assuming it's only $100,000 each. That's more than $6 million that could be cut from their budgets and given to the school districts every year..

tidewater

Throwing money down a sewer hole would be a better use of taxpayer money than stealing the voice of the people. Council needs to mind its business. Vote the gang of thieves out asap!!!

bb1983

What a sad CIty Council. No research, no interest in what's right. Just a bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers. Disgusting,

Rich black

Local politicians are paying a lawyer to persuade legislators to disenfranchise voters, and make tax increases inevitable, no matter what. Who could be surprised at this?

jimparks

Disgraceful. Money is not the issue. The district has received tax increases at more than twice the rate of inflation over the last 10 years despite a shrinking enrollment. So after a referendum is soundly defeated Baumbach decides to try and do an end run around the will of the voters. And then abuses his role as an elected official by jawboning City Council into agreement with this misguided legislation. If he were serious about improving the performance of the district maybe he should jawbone the school board and district into closing one of the half empty high schools instead of continuing to squander taxpayer dollars. Classic tax and spend liberal behavior.

Isaiah T

Newark Council has no business speaking "for the City" by endorsing and getting involved in State authorities. Did they hold a referendum or even a public meeting to see how the citizens they represent feel about this? One more small but continuing erosion of voters rights by mainly left-leaning representatives who know better than the voters. Maybe if the School Board did a credible job of spending the money they have and making a credible case for a tax increase, the public would support it. Year after year they don't answer the public's questions. Maybe if the legislature reconsolidated the school districts and provided state funds for certain universally needed operations, the public might feel differently. But it's Reps like Baumbach who shirk their duties to fix a broken system. Shame on you all.

SashaRawlings

Council and the mayor should STICK TO THEIR OWN BUSINESS.....WHAT THEY CAN CONTROL.....and stop wasting time on a soapbox with minutiae !!! This is why their meetings run so long and are overtime !!

tired

No. Heck no. If I could use stronger language, I would. Do they think that the voters are stupid or something? We voted 'no'. We rarely vote 'no', but even in this way-to-liberal town, we voted 'no'. Now, because the voters didn't vote the way that the gov wanted, they want to cheat and change the rules mid-game. Proving that voters never really had a say - they just pretended that we did until we voted in a way that they didn't approve. Christina district is in trouble - and they've earned it. Voters are sick of paying more money into a system that refuses to improve. Christina has wasted the hard earned money of taxpayers for decades. My school taxes have increase over 60% - in just the time that is available on parcelview. My income sure as heck didn't raise that much. Trim the fat. Cut the administrators. Sell some buildings. Consolidate. Get rid of Wilmington - they had their chance to do it, yet they fought to keep it - WHY?? And, now we find out that they made an agreement that stated that no cuts can be made in the city, the only cuts are made in the suburbs. Why should only the suburban kids be punished? I'm pretty sure that their parents are the only paying the bulk of CSD's money. City of Newark should not endorse this. I sure as heck don't - why can't anyone in the gov ever represent me, my opinions, and my interests?

Delyeah

The reason your opinions and interests are not represented by our elected officials is because the majority of this town probably does not agree with you. You could of course prove me wrong by running for office. I'm sure you'll at least have the support of the other fringe wakos that regularly post on here.

tired

How am I a fringe Wacko? Because I believe that the gov should get out of my business? Or, in the case of this referendum, I believe that the the voters voted? If you want to go live in your socialist nirvana - go - just stop trying to ruin the only country still struggling to not go down that rabbit hole.

chops

Rep. Paul Baumbach does not represent the people of Newark. He just gave the school districts the ability to give themselves a raise every year. I wish I had that ability where I work. However, where I work you actually have to "earn" or "warrant" a raise. You do not just get a raise because....I actually would like to know if this is legal.

Delyeah

Your statement is factually incorrect. The district allocation goes up by 2% per year or by the CPI whichever is lower. The district is not getting a raise. It's just getting the same amount of spending power each subsequent year. Learn some basic economics. Inflation makes goods and services more expensive in the future so spending has to increase to have the same purchasing power. Also, maybe you just have a crappy job. My pay goes up by 2-3% per year because my employer provides an anual cost of living adjustment. It is not based on merit and I don't have to earn it. It's just math that employers need to at minimum keep up with inflation otherwise they can't be competative. Why would I do the same job for less pay each year?

whealton

Yea, it's about time you low-life criminals got your hands back in your constituent's pockets again. After all, what's it been? Like 2 - 3 weeks? You're criminals. Nothing but criminals wearing suits.

Homer

The People , by Voting , are telling the State, They don't approve of all the $ 100,000 Admins, and Not closing any of the High Schools due to the low amount of kids at a High School. Business as Usual , so now You want to go around the $$$ system and keep this Mess going. That is very sad. A Team Coach told Me Newark could have went to Flight B. 10 years ago. And Charter in Newark is thriving ! It's not the Kids.

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