Proposal calls for a financial advisor, a public information officer, and an assistant attorney

At the Tuesday, Jan, 28 New Castle County Council finance committee meeting, councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick proposed extending the personnel budget to hire a financial advisor, a public information officer, and an assistant attorney.

Kilpatrick said the move was prompted by previous discussions about having positions for entry-level employees to work towards as a career.

"We need to give ourselves flexibility in adding some new positions, so we can look at how we – as one branch of government – sustain our self," she said.

Kilpatrick later added that the administration is antiquated when compared to how other governments are run.

"We have not changed in government a tremendous amount, and I think we need to look at doing some of that," she said.

Councilman John Cartier, 8th District, said that in the past 10 years he's seen the staff whittled away to "bare bones" in an effort to show fiscal restraint.

To that end, Cartier suggested transferring funds from vacant positions in other departments instead of just increasing the budget outright.

"That way we can that while we're enhancing our staff, we are not increasing an overall cost to the county government," Cartier said.

Cartier also noted that, with so wide an area under the governing body, it would be an evolution of the council to staff appropriately to face upcoming challenges

"Especially in an era when we need to, as a county, focus on creating real growth and employment. I think this body has a role to play in that policy discussion," Cartier said.

Councilman Bob Weiner, 2nd District, echoed Cartier's sentiments that the council needed to grow and evolve its staff.

Councilman George Smiley, 7th District, said that although he would have not considered such a move in just the previous year, he was willing to support a change to the 2015 operating budget that allows funding for three new positions.

"I think it's important for our staff to understand that the purpose behind this is to supplement the work they already do – it's not to reduce their hours or their work," Smiley said.

Councilman Penrose Hollins, 4th District, suggested a new needs assessment of existing departments and personnel to determine exactly what kind of supplemental staff is necessary.

He also recommended against creating unspecified positions in the budget.

Councilman Jea Street, 10th District, said that he felt the administration was not dysfunctional in any way.

He also named a litany of problems that he suggested were places where the money would be better spent.

"The will of council be the will of council, but I have major problems with it," he said.

The council members ultimately decided to take additional time to examine the issue further at the February finance meeting.