Wilmington City Council votes to spend money on baseball negotiations
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington City Council considered a wide range of topics at its meeting Tuesday night, but one stands out.

Wilmington is one step closer to a new ballpark. City Council voted to spend more than $120,000 to begin negotiations and find out exactly what it will take to play ball in Wilmington.

Some people thought a possible property tax increase could affect the council's vote. Councilman Charlie Rivenbark disagrees.

"It doesn't affect mine," Rivenbark said. "In order to have a revenue neutral tax rate with the shrink of property values, there would have to be some sort of a tax increase, and what we're having our staff do now is and what we approved the money for tonight for is to go into negotiations and find out what that number would be."

The city voted unanimously to pursue baseball negations and fund the exploration for this year.

Also at the meeting, the mayor congratulated Wilmington's Arson Task Force for receiving the 2011 Investigative Team of the Year award.

Police Chief Ralph Evangelous presented a display on Shot Spotter, which an acoustic technology that actually hears and identifies the location of gun shots.

Wilmington Downtown Inc. asked for an amendment to restrict the area where hotels can be built in the city.

"WDI, Dave Spetrino and John Hinnant, they brought that forward knowing that it wasn't going to gain a lot of traction, but it did create some conversation," Rivenbark said. "There are parts of it that I agree with, but you can't restrict hotels just to the Central Business District. It just wouldn't work."

The hotel restriction failed as all council members thought it was not in the interest of the city.

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The wording of the anti-tax stadium is very dangerous. As it stands this is a very simply worded proposal that could very easily have far reaching and quite unintended consequences. The real question lies in how one defines "professional" sports activity. The obvious would certainly include any city funding of clearly professional sports like the baseball club that lies at the center of the dispute AND the "professional" soccer club that plays at Legion Stadium, and would probably exclude something like Little League (although an argument could be made there are "professional" aspects even there.) I mention thid just to show you how ambiguous thisd simple language can be. Also, the term "directly or indirectly" could have far reaching implications. Providing funds (i.e. money) clearly is a direct funding. But, giving an organization a tax exemption or similar benefit for being in the City of Wilmington clearly would be an "indirect" funding activity and would also be barred. Other possible "indirect" funding could be to provide police traffic and/or special security control at games, and similar publicly funded activities that the City might provide. Odd as it may sound this is one reason why legislation is typically written in lengthy and apparently convoluted language - so as to avoid ambiguity and unintended consequences. Regardless of which side of the controversy one is on, the language they are proposing is dangerous and will, if enacted as written, have gravely unintended consequences.

I don't pay property taxes to fund a baseball stadium. If there is so much money floating around that we can spend 120k to see if we should even pursue it, then maybe we could instead hire 3 new WPD officers. That 120k should cover their salaries for a year. Maybe lowering crime in our area would draw more people here than building a ballpark.
We all saw how well the PC Roosters did. And not to knock the sharks but theirs games are not really packed either.

You'd be surprised what your property taxes go towards. This is a good investment to bring more people and generate income in the area. The stadiums are built using public funds because the county/city is able to create revenue streams. Money is generated not only from the lease agreement, but from the sales tax revenue from ever dollar spent there; along with sales tax generated from folks coming into town from around the region and spending their money here, parking revenue, increased property taxes on the surrounding properties (who's value increases) and newly generated property taxes from new developments that spring up around the stadium.

As for the Roosters - they were never meant to be a permanent team here. They were using Brooks field as temporary stop as their stadium was being built.

The Waves poorly run and thus couldn't even pay their players and where sold to cover themselves and subsequently moved the team. The ownership stayed in contact with city/county leaders hoping to get a stadium built but it just wasn't going to happen.

The Sharks are not a professional team. They are collegiate summer league team. College players from around the region play on this team to keep honing their craft. The only time the stadium is full is for thirsty thursdays ($1 beers).

This stadium is more than just baseball, it is multi-use and will draw more businesses/people to the area thus becoming an economic engine.

The city council has not negotiated a stadium before, they aren't equipped to make an informed choice about it. With that being said, I'm glad they spent the money to bring in outside studies and council. I'd be concerned if they didn't. That $125k is an "up-to" amount. It doesn't mean they will spend that amount, it just gives the city manager a spending ceiling. The money is used to get a feasibility study, hire attorneys, possibly a project manager etc etc.

Of course they need to evaluate the opportunity and of course they want to do it in a thorough and professional manner. That is why we elected them to positions of leadership as opposed to many without the vision, courage and leadership skills to make difficult decisions that can provide for a more prosperous future for Wilmington.

There have been several examples of other cities that have made the investments necessary to attract and develop downtown projects similar to the vision being proposed for Wilmington and have have experienced stunning success in creating long-term benefits for their citizens. We can learn much from these examples and it would be short-sighted and foolish for council to not evaluate an investment with such potential for the community.

Thank you Mayor and council members for you thoughtful and prudent actions on our behalf.

To all that oppose the ball park, where do you get your information from. I have yet to see or hear anything from the city council on the raising of taxes for this. It seems to me that they want to investigate this to see if it will be a benefit to the area and our local economy. If it helps then i say do it. I for one think they made the right call to earmark money for this. It amazes me how many people think that if we just sit here and do nothing that it will make Wilmington a better place with a better economy.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/208940522530134/

stadiumfan - I have not heard of any other funding options other than raising taxes at this point. What have you heard? What are the other funding options since you seem to think a tax increase is only one option that they may or may not go with?

The interview after the vote to study how much it would cost to build the ballpark would determine to amount of tax base increase.You only hear what you want to hear.

Sadly, unlike the Federal Government, Wilmington does not have a printing press for printing money.

When you have people hob-knobing with the hollywood bunch they want them to see they are bigger than life by spending tax money on things that does not make finical sense.I think it just gives them a out for raising the tax base higher.Look at all the extra income from tax they had years before what happen to it where was it spent.Just look at the Thousands of dollars pay increase the gave to the new manager of the housing authority for doing the job he was hired to do without any proof of any problems have been fixed he was only there a year when he received $30,000.00 thousand dollar increase and again the next year why is Wilmington handing out such large increase to people doing the job they are hired to do.People need to look into what type of pay packages with bounces,retirement,vacation and spending accounts the local government workers and council are receiving especially the Mayor.

And now it begins ... as the council starts to spend even more money they don't have. "I think we owe it to the community to investigate it and see where it goes," said Mayor Bill Saffo. Hey Bill, let me save you some time and the taxpayers some money; it goes straight down the rabbit hole, just like the convention center. What Saffo really owes to the community is to investigate and see where that money already went. Oh yea, and he also owes some honesty, but don't hold your breath on that one.

you do understand that the convention center was built and all day-to-days are paid by ROT, right?

Meaning there is no burden to residents.

... I'm wrong. Forgot about the ROT. Financial projections predict solvency through 2038 with the inclusion of the ROT. Even after that it will still be required at some level. That does indicate though that ROT funds will not be available to assist in this project unless you have determined some way to spend those monies twice.

People are finally waking up to what this council is doing, and how their decisions have nothing to do with the best interest of the community. We're in a $13 million hole right now - and instead of stopping digging, the council funds the purchases of the best shovels and equipment to dig the deepest, biggest hole money can buy. People form all over the political spectrum are jumping on board to force the council to stop this stadium nonsense - since listening to the public and representing their best interest is not an option. Get on board: www.facebook.com/nostadium

I have a question for Ben McCoy. If the information I have been hearing is true, you don't own property in The city of Wilmington, which means you don't pay city taxes. Does that mean you can't even sign your own petition? Should people who don't pay property taxes be allowed to sign the petition?

McCoy Berger Fulton.

McCoy -> The Endless Voice
Berger -> The Endless TMZ Drama Episodes
Fulton -> The trainee to take over when one of these two ends up in jail and or a mental institution OR BOTH.

Oh great Ben McCoy. This city would be lost without your wise words of wisdom. With your leadership and vision we can crawl out of the primordial ooze wee've been trapped in for far too long. Seriously dude.. maybe if you ACTUALLY paid property taxes in New Hanover county people would take you seriously.

Ben McCoy and Curtis Wright are reported not to own any real property in Wilmington or NHC to pay taxes on. Just two blow-hards with no skin in the game!

What will the economic impact to the reagon be?It will be very little due to the fact it requires local patrons to be the main support of revenue for a ball park.Money they would have likley spent elesewhere in our reagon.
A better alturnitive to the ball park.Host a PGA golf event.The three local counties could work togeather spliting the cost.Eagles Island would be a great place to have public golf course.The Eagles Island coalition along with the Audobon society and a golf course disigner could come up with a accepitalbe plan.There are many great companies in the area that could be the event sponcer.(GE,Corning,PPD) The economic impact to the reagoin would probibly be in exess of 10 million dollars and possiably 1 million dollars to charity for a one week event.Year round impact would bring in even more money to our area.Armed Fouces week in May would be a wonderful time for the event.
Honored on this week include people who serve the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. National Guard and Reserve units.The USS North Carolina surrouned by a public golf course built in honer of all who have served.

With property values in the beach towns falling the most, will that raise what the average starter home owner in NHC pays in taxes since these homes did not drop nearly as much?

Even with the overall revenue neutral goal, am I right to think that the typical patio home owner who's home is worth 130k to 200k will be paying more for taxes since these homes took the smallest hit in value?

It makes perfect sense to spend $120k in the face of a $13M shortfall. Once you are so far down in debt, $120k is chump change. The city council is like Obummer, they will spend us to prosperity.

I will be the first to save I do love baseball and the first to say we do not need to spend Tax Payers money for a New Ball Park. I saw yesterday that the City was looking at a $2,000,000.00 short fall in tax revenue and here they are spending $120,00.00 to see if we should build a Ball Park.

I really thing if they want a team here let MLB build the park or let’s use Legion Stadium to see if they can bring enough people in for a long period of time.

If you look there is a lot of ball played in this county and I bet if you ask any coach they will tell you with the beach here it isn't much of a draw.

We have 4 High Schools, American Legion, Sharks and UNCW here. I bet there is very little support for these.

If this was a great ideal then private investors would be standing in line to put their money it. However, all you see is everyone wanting tax payers to foot the bill and MLB takes no rise and takes all the money.

Wilmington has several baseball teams. They are mostly school teams. If you love baseball, attend our local baseball team games. Support our teams. Our local kids need the support. It cost families lots of money to have their children participate in sports. Our local kids would love to have baseball fans come watch them play baseball. This would not increase anyones taxes.

U can look at it like this you gotta spend money to make money! Maybe it will bring more jobs to the area maybe it wont,But on the other hand why are they building a ball park for a minor league team, they should be playing ball at Laney H.S baseball field or something?? Im just saying.p.s dont judge me :')

in their minds no doubt.

A projected budget shortfall of $13 million coming up. They'll either have to cut services or cut jobs.

They need a 4 cent increase in the tax rate to remain revenue neutral.

So let's spend money on a non-essential item.

And at the end of the day, they'll force the stadium on that overpriced land adjacent to the river.

$12 box seat admission.

$4 coke or water

$4 hot dogs

Certainly an attainable and affordable family outing in this economy.

Ae they doing drugs downtown at these meetings? Something causes them to lose all sense of reality.

For them to be able to lose all sense of reality implies that they had a sense of reality to begin with and I just don't think they ever had it. As it is, where I am it is more feasible for me to go down to Myrtle Beach and watch the Pelicans. They are very family friendly and affordable. The roads there are better and I can get gas cheaper.

The city council in Wilmington should be focusing their energy and money on essential items. Since I no longer live there, I don't know what all the needs are. I do know that they have cut city jobs. Last year they justified the bonuses because the employees were taking on extra duties because of the jobs they have cut. Instead of pouring money into something that Wilmington doesn't need, why not hire some of these people. One thing that I have noticed the past few times I have been in Wilmington is that the roads are horrible, absolutely horrible. Our roads here in Shallotte are better than the Wilmington roads. Improving Wilmington's roads would be a much better use of the taxpayers' money than a ballpark that the city does not need.

"In order to have a revenue neutral tax rate with the shrink of property values there would have to be some sort of a tax increase"

Thanks Charlie. So we're 13mil short, you want to spend 120thousand to see how much you have to up our taxes just to be NEUTRAL for our reduced value homes, AND you want to increase, again, for a ball park? The convention center is such a bonus, this is sure to be a winner.

What is the secret that you all know that will make this benefit the city? You aught to spell it out, because its looking pretty foolish to the rest of us.

This would be more of a news story if the council had voted against spending money.

Let us not forget beer sales. Nobody could watch an entire game of the dullest game in sports without drinking large amounts of beer.

What goes in- soon has to come out. What will be the cost of all that fluid, which will then be reprocessed and then flushed down the river?