Dover City Council Considers Defunding Economic Development Offi - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover City Council Considers Defunding Economic Development Office

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Downtown Dover flag. The Loockerman Street stretch has about 18 empty storefronts. (Photo: WBOC) Downtown Dover flag. The Loockerman Street stretch has about 18 empty storefronts. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- WBOC counted 18 empty storefronts in the immediate area of Loockerman Street Thursday in downtown Dover.

That is what has some people worried about a possible decision by Dover City Council to get rid of Dover's Economic Development Office. The decision would come through a vote on the new fiscal year's budget. The proposed budget cuts all funding to the office, including the three jobs in it. 

Councilman David Anderson says there were some accountability problems with the office but getting rid of it now is the wrong decisions.

"The unemployment rate's dropped in half, we're growing faster than the national average," he said. "And it just makes no sense to change now that we've fixed things. It's like we're trying to fix five years ago today."

Most other council members support getting rid of the office despite what some people would call a struggling downtown.

WBOC spoke with a lot of business owners in downtown Dover who say there is just too much politics and history involved in this possible decision. For that reason, they would not consent to an interview, because they do not want to get in the middle of it until the decision is said and done.

Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. is one member who supports taking funds away from the Economic Development Office. He told WBOC

Our reporter asked Mayor Robin Christiansen if this is the right move, if what they are doing now is working.

"It is working," he told WBOC. "It has worked well, but it was the feeling on council, by the majority which I might say, that we needed to move in another direction."

Christiansen said the City Council appropriates the money, so the employees need to make do with the format the council gives them. He says under the proposal, the Economic Development Office will be replaced with an economic advisory committee chaired by the mayor.

Downtown Dover Partnership is a group that deals with bettering downtown Dover and providing residents and business owners with opportunities to grown and prosper.

The partnership is scrambling to hire an experienced director, because in the past it has pulled on the resources of the Economic Development Office and its director, Bill Neaton. It is accepting applications for the position through July 9.

The final Dover City Council vote on the budget is June 27. The new fiscal year begins July 1.  

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