Public To Give Views on ILM's Proposed Budget

Wilmington, NC – Members of the public gets a chance tonight to tell City Council members what they think of the proposed 07- 08 budget.

As written, the budget would raise property taxes on any Wilmington homeowner whose house substantially appreciated in the property tax revaluation. The plan adopts a tax rate of 32 cents per $100 of assessed value, two cents above the revenue-neutral rate. The added revenue would fund 36 new police positions and 4 in the Fire Department.

Councilman Jason Thompson originally proposed the increase to fund new positions at the police and fire departments.

"I get more complaints from citizens about law enforcement," he said, "they want to see more police. They're tired of their vehicles and homes getting broken into."

After hearing a presentation from city manager Sterling Cheatham on the proposed budget at the last city council meeting, Mayor Bill Saffo said the Council needs to take a hard look at its expenses.

"Of course, my perspective, and I'm one of seven members up here, is to get to as close to a revenue neutral position as possible," Saffo said.

Council members are quick to point out that sticking to a 'value neutral' rate would actually bring in less money than if the county hadn't revaluated at all because the 'value neutral' calculation was based on a lower rate of growth than the city actually experienced last year.

The proposed Wilmington budget also hikes water rates by 5% and sewer by 10%, as well as increasing parking meters rates and the greens fee at the city golf course.

Proposed Wilmington FY 2007-08 budget