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ONLY ON 3: City, county look to work together on future storm clean-up

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County has told the City of Wilmington it will not help foot some of the city's bill to clean up from February's ice storm. But, could the mess be a spark for county-city cooperation?

"It is something that we can easily partner on, we think, and we would be open to doing so," Wilmington spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

In an e-mail to Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham, New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet says he would like both administrations to work closely and quickly to address debris removal operations in the future.

This all stems from Cheatham asking the county to reimburse part of the city's debris collection cost. Coudriet says he thinks it would save money if the city and the county worked together.

"I think the next step is the appropriate city and county staff working together number one to see is there a way to merge two existent contracts and create one plan that specifies very clearly roles and responsibilities and how that will be funded," Coudriet said.

Talbert says she believes conversations have already begun to take place between city and county leaders.

"The conversation is open," she said. "The idea is being brought forward. I am sure the city is very open to working with the county on something like that, especially if we could get a more cost effective or more effective pick up."

We tried to reach out to Cheatham for comment, but we were told he would be busy all day.

Coudriet says if the city and county cannot merge their contracts for debris pick-up he hopes they can come up with an operating plan that describes their roles and responsibilities.

The city and county each spent nearly $1.5 million to pick up debris from February's ice storm. Coudriet told Cheatham he would like both administrations to merge their debris removal contracts by July, which is the beginning of the next fiscal year.

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The City cannot live within its means. In the past, it has annexed outlying areas to add to its coffers. I was one of the people who was forced to hook to a sewer line at a large cost for a person on a small fixed income, when I had a perfectly functioning septic tank. My Cape Fear Utility bills are 4 to 5 the times what I once paid and I keep reading about sewage spills. The rest of New Hanover County needs to disengage itself from Wilmington. Wilmington is not our friend. Wilmington is like Jabba The Hut - large and unchecked and hungry. And I hope that soon Wilmington has to live within its means without the rest of us. Oh, I so wish I could go back to my little $16.00 a month bills instead of the huge ones I get now from Cape Fear Utility Authority!