The stock market dropped, gas prices spiked, the local real estate market slowed dramatically. All of those things put a hole in local government budgets. The City of Wilmington originally budgeted around $15 million for operating expenses, but with fewer real estate sales and less property tax revenue coming in, they have to cut around $5 million from the budget. "We are trying to do everything we can to keep all of the employees that we have. Not reduce the number of employees, so we can continue to provide those core services," said Malissa Talbert, City of Wilmington spokesperson. The city has a traveling and hiring freeze, except on emergency personnel, and new purchases are being put off. But they may have to cut more, depending on the state of the economy. New Hanover County also has to reduce its budget by $4 million because of a loss in tax revenue. The county is also in a hiring freeze, except for emergency personnel. The county has cut each department's operating expenses by 5 percent and education by one half of one percent. That means county schools will have to cut their budget by $360,000. Cape Fear Community College will have cuts as well. David Hardin, CFCC spokesperson, said, “As far as our county cuts this year it's roughly about $30,000, but we're going to be able to manage without that the student's basic services will not be affected." The college will wait to fill open positions to save money and be careful of new purchases. These cuts will probably not be the last. City and county officials do not foresee the economy turning around any time soon. "We expect that this downturn will continue at least into the next fiscal year. We're really looking at something significant and we anticipate that well have some difficult decisions to make with in the next few months," said Talbert. The City Council will meet on November 3rd to discuss more details on the budget cuts and decide if more are needed. School administrators will meet Monday to determine how they will meet the $360,000 county funding cuts.
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