The city’s recommended budget was presented to City Council on Tuesday and calls for a tax increase and further service reductions, but does not include any staff layoffs.
The city is facing a third year of budget shortfalls and this year recommends a 3.75-cent tax increase to help offset a $5.7 million deficit. Core services are maintained, but construction and maintenance costs are reduced and another 18 positions eliminated. While there are no furloughs or pay cuts for staff proposed, benefit cuts will remain in effect and health insurance costs will increase.
The city’s current tax rate is 33.25 cents per $100 and is recommended to increase to 37 cents per $100. Wilmington’s tax rate is the second lowest of all large cities in North Carolina and has only been raised by ¼-cent since 1999. Even with the increase, it would remain the second lowest tax rate of large cities.
The median home price in Wilmington is $185,000. A 3.75-cent tax increase on a home valued at $185,000 would cost $5.77 a month.
City Manager Sterling Cheatham says the ongoing economic downtown and cuts over the last three years have strained the city’s budget to the point where core services will have to be cut this year without a tax increase. Along with reduced sales tax revenue and funding from the state, the city has completed a significant number of projects over the last three years that must be paid for over several years, just as an individual pays for a home over time with monthly mortgage payments. Projects recently completed include the $24 million police headquarters, two new fire stations, and several parks and traffic projects.
View the city's recommended budget.
Watch a video of the presentation of the recommended budget to City Council.
Learn some fast facts about the city's budget.