Dover’s 2023 budget relies on an increase in electricity costs and the postponement of some infrastructure upgrades to balance the city’s books.
The $194 million budget represents an increase of approximately $30 million over last year’s budget, covering both increased personnel costs – partly due to competition for scarce employees – and rising prices for fuel, building materials and other key resources.
Dover City Council largely resisted tax increases to match rising operating and capital improvement costs; the council maintained that position this year, opting to reduce a proposed property tax increase and instead increase the cost of electric service. City manager David Hugg said the council had taken the decision to shift some of the burden to non-profit organizations – including schools, churches and government offices – which occupy a substantial part of the properties of Dover.
“The council’s concern was to spread the impact a little wider than just putting it on the backs of the 60-70% of people who actually pay property taxes,” he said.
Hugg adds that Dover will also postpone the replacement of some city vehicles for another year, although he says those vehicles – including some belonging to city utilities and inspection departments – should have been replaced there. two or more years ago.
By far the biggest spender is the Dover Police and Fire Department, which will account for 41% of the city’s spending in the coming year.
Hugg also notes that Dover’s growing footprint—driven by annexations—is driving up maintenance expenses for the city’s utilities.
“You can’t avoid the fact that over the last few years the city has grown tremendously,” he said, “and as these areas have been developed, even though the developer puts the infrastructure in place, once it’s under the city it becomes the responsibility of the city.”
Dover Council has also approved pay rises for itself and for the town’s mayor.