Council approved the second step in the process of annexing Monkey Junction, to the dismay of many residents who live there. Monkey Junction is one step closer to being annexed into the city of Wilmington. Tuesday night, city council members, except Kristi Tomey, who's opposed to forced annexation, approved a service plan for the area. "I feel like if we're annexed, the services aren't going to be get any better," said Monkey Junction resident, Charles Wade. Council also approved, and praised, a request for voluntary annexation into the city by a developer who will build a mixed use development on River Road. Wilmington Mayor, Bill Saffo said, "Annexation also increases a city's size, population, and raises its ability to attract desirable commercial and industrial developments as well as employment opportunities." Also on the table Tuesday night was increasing the taxi rates. As it stands now, there is a two dollar drop rate, which is the amount on the meter when you enter a cab, as well as a one dollar fuel surcharge. "My concern about this surcharge, is when it was brought to us as a surcharge, the gas was $4.50," said Ronald Sparks. The voted ended up getting pushed back 60 days, but would have increased the drop rate to three dollars, and gotten rid of the surcharge. City council member, Margaret Haynes said, "That really penalizes people that have to take a cab to go to the grocery store or take a cab for a short trip." "I still continue to have some concerns if we make the short trips unprofitable for the cab drivers that they will be somewhat reluctant to respond for short trips," added Laura Padgett. Council also voted to amend the city's panhandling code to allow street performers in certain areas, as well as regulate where performers and other solicitors can be on downtown streets. "We are an artistic and somewhat edgy community and I appreciate the opportunity to allow buskers to perform in the downtown area," said Haynes. Also included in the panhandling vote; street performers no longer need permits to perform at River Front Park. They are also allowed on the median on Market Street between Water and Front streets.
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