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Council meeting May 20

Tuesday, May 20, City Council meeting, 6:30 p.m., City Hall
Items of interest on the agenda include:

  • A presentation from the US Forestry Service recognizing Wilmington as a “Tree City USA” for 2014. Currently, Wilmington has local laws designed to protect trees and encourage developers to maintain trees, or plant new trees if trees are removed during construction. A proposal brought forward by a state legislative study committee in April would strip the authority of cities and counties to have such laws and a bill could be introduced during the short session of the NC General Assembly currently underway. The City of Wilmington has been recognized annually for over a decade as a Tree City USA. If the legislation is passed by the NC General Assembly, Wilmington and every other community in North Carolina would lose this distinction. 
     
  • An update on a potential $55 million transportation bond referendum. The long list of needs that would be addressed by this bond includes $33 million for road projects, $20 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and $2 million for public transportation. If Council decides to proceed, there would be a public hearing held on July 8, at which time Council would vote to put the bond on the November 4 ballot. City Council will consider authorizing submission of the bond referendum to the Local Government Commission on June 3 to place it on the Nov. 4 ballot.
     
  • APPROVED: An appropriation to close out the Convention Center Capital Project. $6 million of the total amount of Room Occupancy Tax (ROT) funds set aside for the construction of the convention center and adjacent parking deck remain since the project came in well under budget. If approved, these funds will be applied to the original construction debt, which is being paid off in installments with ROT funds. In addition, because of this $6 million being applied toward this year's installment, $4.4 million in ROT funds that would have otherwise been applied to this year's installment would remain in the ROT fund to be used in future years. NOTE: All convention center construction and operating expenses are paid for from ROT funds as well as fees charged to users at the facility.
     
  • A public hearing on the recommended city budget for FY 2014-2015. The $145 million budget includes a $91 million General Fund. Council will vote on the budget on June 3, with a final vote on June 17. The first vote on the budget will occur at the June 3 City Council meeting.

    Highlights of the proposed FY 2014-2015 budget include:
    • 1¢ property tax increase 
      • Impact to average homeowner: ($200,000 home) = $1.67 a month, or $20 a year. 
      • Even with the increase, Wilmington’s property tax rate remains among the lowest of all NC cities 
    • Core services maintained 
    • Additional funding for multi-year plan to help get employee wages to market rates
    • Strong savings (fund balance) for emergencies of about $22 million 
    • Continued funding for 5-year infrastructure improvement plan
      • 5¢ of the overall tax rate funds a five-year plan to make $41 million worth of repairs and improvements – such as street repaving and work on public facilities such as the Riverwalk – that had been put on hold during the economic downturn. 
    • Funding for additional law enforcement and prevention efforts focused on youth violence reduction, including: 
      • A full year’s funding for the WPD’s Mobile Field Force and Gang Task Force; 
      • 2 part-time employees to keep community centers open longer and $151,000 in additional funding for non-profit agencies that provide services to at-risk youth. 
            

 Watch the meeting
      

The next Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 3. The agenda for the next meeting will be posted on the city's website on Friday, May 30.
 
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.

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