City Council meeting, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall
Items of interest on the agenda included:
- The public hearing for request that was continued from May 7 meeting to rezone 7 acres on Surry Street, formerly known as the Gateway Project was continued to the August 6 meeting. The subject parcels were rezoned in 2008 to riverfront mixed use, but the new property owner is requesting the parcels be reverted back to their pre-2008 industrial zoning designation. The request was denied by the Planning Commission and appealed to City Council.
- Final vote on the 2013-14 budget and fee schedule. Highlights:
- No property tax increase
- Core services maintained
- 2% pay raise for employees; additional 1.5% pool for performance-based merit pay
- Strong savings (fund balance) for emergencies of about $25 million
- Continued funding for 5-year infrastructure improvement plan
- Continued public safety investment, including funding a full year’s funding for the WPD’s new Mobile Field Force as well as the purchase of a new ladder fire truck
- Proposed fee increases: $1 per nine holes at Municipal Golf Course; 6% for stormwater (Equals 34¢ a month for average homeowner)
- Funding for lights at center court in the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex (AGTC) at Empie Park; funding would come from a $30,000 donation from the Althea Gibson Tennis Foundation and $11,375 each from the city and county.
- Acceptance of a $15,000 donation from Henry Johnston for this year’s July 4th fireworks celebration. The fireworks cost approximately $30,000. Traditionally, the city budgets $10,000 for the fireworks, with the Battleship NC contributing $5,000 and the remaining $15,000 coming from a title sponsor. In February, the city learned that the title sponsor was dropping out and in April, the city set aside funding to be used if a new sponsor could not be found. However, if Council accepts the donation on Tuesday, the funding set aside will not be needed for this year’s fireworks.
Background on Mr. Johnston: Henry Johnston founded Johnston Architecture LLP in Wilmington in 1976. In March, Johnston’s wife, Lorene Reaves Johnston, passed away after a two-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. They were married for 50 years and were regular attendees of the downtown July 4th celebration. Johnston is making the donation in honor of his late wife.
- Final approval of the agreement authorized by City Council in February for an incentive for expansion of Castle Branch, Inc. New Hanover County has since approved a similar agreement. The incentive provides Castle Branch $50,000 a year for five years if the company successfully builds a $9 million headquarters facility and adds 400 employees. Castle Branch is a privately owned background screening company located across from Mayfaire.
The next Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 9. The agenda for the next meeting will be posted on the city's website on Friday, July 5. There will only be one Council meeting in July.
Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, which is located on the second floor of City Hall at 102 North 3rd Street. Parking is available in the Thalian Hall parking lot or in the city parking deck located directly across from City Hall. Meetings are also broadcast on GTV8 (Time Warner Cable channel 8) or simulcast by visiting the GTV8 web page. Following the meeting, videos are available on demand on the city's video archive web page.