make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

City's low tax argument only part of equation


The City of Wilmington is thinking about raising property taxes to make up for the $7 million budget shortfall it is facing. In their arguments in favor of raising taxes, city officials say that they've only raised taxes once in the last decade, and that compared to the 10 largest cities in North Carolina, Wilmington has the second lowest tax rate.

We did a little digging and found another relevant fact to consider. The median household income in Wilmington is the lowest of any of the major cities in the state.

Here's a look at the numbers from the 2000 census, the most recent available. The median household income in Wilmington is just $31,099, followed by Jacksonville ($32,544), Asheville ($32,772) and Winston-Salem ($37,006).

Folks in the Raleigh-Durham area do quite a bit better, with income levels in the mid 40s. The average household in Charlotte brings in $46,975. But folks in Cary are the ones living the high life, with a median household income of $75,122.

Adding to the pinch for folks making a living in Wilmington: the cost of housing here is higher than almost anywhere else in the state.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


what about 100,000.00 to Cameron Arts Museum?

I can't believe no one has mentioned that yet. They are forking over 100,000 a year to a privately owned museum that won't even divulge how it spends its money. For all we know, that could be a small fraction of the annual salary of the "CEO". How many more "ABC style salaries gone mad" stories are waiting to be uncovered by WWAY TV that otherwise would never make the light of day?

Let me expand on....

...the words "Art Museum". Yesterday was my first visit to the Cameron "Art" Museum. I love museums and I love art. I paint, sculpt and work in metals. At the very best, there were no more that 6 decent paintings in that museum. None of them were by the old masters, none of them were even old and none by famous artists at all. There was one bust done in cast iron that was nice. The rest was quilts, wall hangings made of junk and spray paint, models of hillbilly cabins made of scrap wood and painted by 3 yr olds.
I'm sorry, I've been around art all of my life and that was one sorry excuse for an "Art Museum". I wouldn't give $5000.00 for everything in the place including the restaurant furniture, much less $100,000.00

Call it opinion if you like, but geeeeeeeeez......go see for yourself. That'll be the last 8 dollars you'll waste!

budget solutions

Dear City Council,

Here is a list of how I believe you can save the city money by cutting the budget, thus not have to raise my taxes:

Fire: do we really need all of these stations and truck, come on really? How often do they actually spend time responding to a call. Why not make them all volunteer, and we can all rely on the kindness of our fellow citizens to help out in a fire emergency.

Police: Do we really need police cruising the streets 24/7. How often do they actually prevent/stop a crime that they see while patroling? Make it 100% call response system. If it takes more time for them to respond from the station, so be it, I can wait.

Storm water: Do we really need maintenance and additions to the system. How often do pipes really break or streets flood?

Trash collection: Do we really need them picking up trash at my curb twice a week. I can just take my trash in my car down to the dump, as necessary.

Parks: What do we really need parks for. Ain't nothing but a place for hoodlums and no-good-scum to hang out. Stop maintaning them, just let the trees and bushes and grass grow up, who cares about green space.

Streets: Who cares if you think we need to maintain our city roads, and fix pot holes, replace light bulbs, and broken fixtures. Let them just keep deteriorating, it will make driving more of an adventure.

Seriously, do we really need to have these extravagant expenses in our city.


Are you suggesting that we live in a land such as 'Mad Max'? Sounds like we would be living in anarchism, with way more crime in our community. No respondents to fire in a timely manner and streets unworthy of driving on. Our pothole situation is terrible now. I am appalled at your suggestion. There has to be ways to cut back, without our city going to pot. Paalleeese!!!
So you say you would be willing to wait for the police to be dispatched from the station? Not me. If I have an emergent need, I want immediate assistance. You sound like you are happy with run down and mediocre lifestyle. Sorry, I don't like seeing trash on the street. I like my trash removal service.
WOW, your suggestions sound absolutely crazy.


I didn't take the poster's comments as crazy. Sarcastic, maybe...

sarcasm...but true?

I'm hoping for sarcasm..but they do raise a good point..the city has already cut their budget twice, once because of the screw up by the NHC tax man, and the 2nd because of the slowing economy. They have cut positions by early retirement, put off improvement projects, and not given their employees raises and cut back on their benefits, for the 2nd year in a row. So stands to reason that the next step would be to have to start cutting people or services, and they usually go hand in hand. Start laying off city employees, then the service they were providing to citizens also goes away. Stop providing certain services to the citizens, then the employee becomes expendable. At some point we, as citizens, have to choose between pitching in a few more dollars a month to help maintain our current standard of living, or start losing some of these services which make our lives worth living. I for one, would choose to cut back dining out a couple of times a month to put that money towards a tax increase, then live in a decrepid city.


Look at the unneccesary spending that continues, unabated.

Look how much Padgett has poured into that bottomless well of red-ink known as Wave.

How much have we given to youth soccer? How much have we spent on those grotesque sculptures? How much have we committed to that convention center that is already exceeding projected costs?

How much has gone to totally frivolous spending that didn't HAVE to be spent? And now Saffo wants to fund an arts counsil?

You don't have to cut back on dining out (which will reduce sales tax revenues and many people's incomes), the city simply needs to stop spending money on pet projects that might be okay in a roaring economy, but are totally misguided in the current situation.

non-essential to whom?

Deciding what is essential and non-essential is not exactly black and white. I think that having my garbage picked up once a week is non-essential. I live by myself, and it takes me a month to even come close to filling one of those big buckets, so I could go a month between garbage collection. However, a large family would probably consider having their garbage picked up once a week as essential. I think that having my tax dollars being spent to build and maintain parks to be a waste, because I have no need to use a public pool or visit a park, so I consider these to be non-essential. But I'm sure people who use these sevvices think otherwise. Likewise, I don't think my money should be used to support art and other "cultural" items. If I want to go visit a musuem that much, I'd pay the price, no matter what. And what gaul do the Cameron's have to ask the city for fork over 100K in taxpayer money, in these economic times. Don't they own enough land in this town, and have more money then most people earn in their lifetime, yet they think they need government money to get by. If the museum is not self sufficient, then it is obviously not popular enough and used enough, thereby making it a non-essential. I'm sure everybody has their own list of what they think is essential to their life, it depends on your own priorities and life choices. People who have money have different essentials then people without.

Please explain... soccer, sculpture, or an arts council could be ESSENTIAL to anyone....

...and if Wave is so essential, raise the rates to pay for it. We can't afford our own little version of that federal money pit, Amtrak


How essential something is I believe moves on a sliding scale depending on our economy. For some things, such as some of the things you mention, that scale slides pretty quickly. But in a poor, slow moving economy, I'm thinking that helping to keep our transit system going should be a lot more important than many other extras. Many of those who are out there trying to make a living & are still struggling depend on public transportation to get to & from work. I would rather pay for a dependable transit system for those hardworking people than pay for them on welfare.

Me too...

I thought the poster was just being sarcastic as well.... I sure could be wrong but if it wasn't sarcasm then yea it was nuts.

let's review

Fire, all volunteer force is actually a good idea.

Police, largely a revenue gathering entity(traffic fines)- we could easily cut 1/3rd if they were more efficient (businesses would - and have). Get rid of those that can't pass a physical fitness test, eliminate desk jockeys.

Storm water - two words: stop developing. Less concrete, more green space and wetlands.

Trash, privatize and lower costs.

Parks, my favorite is the state park - less is more. The green space is what you go to the park for anyway. Less parks, but bigger parks are what we need.

Streets, go back to cobblestone. It's greener, quainter, lasts forever (they're still digging up Roman roads from 3000BC) and you can't speed on it (less police!)

We recently endured "every department must cut budget 30%" The city should enact the same. Amazing what cuts you find when you involve individual departments...

Review what???

An all-volunteer force? In a city of over 100,000? I'm sorry, but I have to believe you must be joking. Everytime there is a car accident, by law the fire department HAS to respond. Just considering the number of accidents and not even counting fires, how many volunteers are going to respond to all of those?

How do you get that police are "revenue gathering?" If you look at the city's budget, they aren't listed as an enterprise fund. Maybe you don't know that a lot of the money collected from fines goes to the New Hanover County school district.

Stop developing, stop growing, in fact, let's go backwards. Stormwater is not about developing and concrete, in fact, it's about preserving our watersheds and trying to find ways that we can co-exist. I agree that all the parking lots and development is the cause behind most (if not all) of stormwater problems, but we can't just stop growing. Not practical.

OK - this one is my favorite. PRIVATIZE TRASH??? I believe the city tried this a few years ago & bid out the contracts. Guess what. NONE OF THEM could do it for even close the price of what the city can do it for. Not only that, but the city does it better than the private companies. When Waste Management used to be my hauler, they would miss my trash constantly and about the whole last six months they were supposed to be the city's "contract carrier," they might have picked up my recycling once or twice. I think I was told that the city even had to hire extra people to handle all the complaints they used to get.

my trash is private

Cape fear Public Utilities Authoruity is privatized, no longer owned by the city.


Yes, Cape Fear Public Utilities is a separate "Authority" and only controls water and sewer. They don't do trash. They do bill for city trash pick up on their bills, however, but it is the city that does trash, recycling and yard waste.

So, this means that I may

So, this means that I may choose to cut services or shop for a better priced alternative??

Wilmington taxes

The city may not have raised taxes, but the property evaluation have gone up so much that I know of no one that said that their taxes were unchanged; The taxes went up;

give us a break...

just the fact that our household income ranks the lowest and our housing ranks the highest should be enough to stop this nonsense of raising taxes. I'd like to see some ratios on that one.

I've been a resident for the last year and a half and not only did I find housing disgustingly overpriced, but there is a definite shortage of industry to support the high cost of living. Unfortunately I am now committed to this area for the next few years, otherwise I'd be living in a place that made sense.

I am appalled at the median

I am appalled at the median income here versus the rest of the state. Annexation and taxing are only making the people poorer. Example, there are people that live by the water and own their property and are on fixed incomes. That is just one example of people that is severely effects. Increasing taxes will serve who, it does not help the common man.

EXCELLENT Investigative

EXCELLENT Investigative reporting. City Council, New Hanover Com. and the new and totally inept CFPUC twist data to reach the want's or goals.

The city's facts and yours.....

...are inconsequential to the argument.

There is one (and only one) justification for raising taxes in the current economy: The city is unable to fund essential services and has nowhere left from which to cut funding.

When the last tax raise took effect or where we rank in regard to other cities means nothing.

As long as you have people like Saffo and Padgett justifying tax increases because of arts funding and landscaping, you can believe that they simply don't get it. They don't care one iota about their duties as elected officials, and don't particularly care about the impact on the citizens. They simply believe that they should take your money because THEY CAN.

look around

Am I the only one that looks around day to day and sees all of the city vehicles tooling around town? What about all of the parks and recreation assets, the police and county sheriff vehicles, the various buildings and facilities (to include the new convention center) helicopters flying around, etc... We are paying for all of it. How much of it is necessary?

We need a candidate who will minimize government, and be an "efficiency expert" that will eliminate city jobs and assets. The budget is upside down - cut it like we ALL have had to do.