With a hiring freeze in place and New Castle County Departments instructed to slash spending heading into the next fiscal year, some on county council are wondering if the cuts are going too deep.


    With a hiring freeze in place and New Castle County Departments instructed to slash spending heading into the next fiscal year, some on county council are wondering if the cuts are going too deep.
    For the second straight week during budget deliberations, council members expressed fears about cutting specific segments of the county workforce.
    Of the 427 authorized positions in the Department of Special Services – the county’s public works department – 57 are vacant, with no plans to fill 45 of them.
    And the 12 positions General Manager Mike Svaby wants to fill? Unless County Executive Chris Coons deems them crucial, they’ll remain vacant until a countywide hiring freeze is lifted.
    Council President Paul Clark wondered whether those vacancies would hamstring the department, making it difficult to complete important work.
    “It’s easy for us to beat on our chest and say we cut our budget by 12 people, but are those 12 people worth it if we let a park decay? Are we causing ourselves more problems going forward?” Clark said at the April 27 Special Services budget hearing. “I’m apprehensive we’re going to lose some [more] key people and we’re going to be very penny-wise but dollar foolish.”
    Special Services has more vacancies than other departments because of the high number of retirements it’s seen over the last few years. Many of those positions have not been filled because of the hiring freeze.    Councilman Bill Bell (D-12th District) agreed, especially when the department is using outside contractors to do work in house employees could be trained to do.
    Bell was specifically upset about a $200,000 contract the county had with outside electricians to maintain some of the high-level technology at the Paul Sweeney Public Safety Building.
    “We knew that building was coming for how many years and we didn’t have anyone trained,” Bell said. “When are we going to train our own people?”
    Bell also spoke out at the April 20 Public Safety budget hearing about plans not to fill vacant 9-1-1 call operator and paramedic positions.