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

City Council looks at $5.7 million shortfall

READ MORE: City Council looks at $5.7 million shortfall
ilmbudget300.jpg

The city of Wilmington now has a $5.7 million budget shortfall. Today, Council members discussed ways to fix the hefty shortfall, from cutting jobs to raising property taxes.

"This is really the worst budget that I've been through since I've been on Council," says City Council member Laura Padgett.

Padgett joined the other City Council members to try to fix the holes in that budget. They alleviated part of the $7.5 million deficit by eliminating merit increases and retirement contributions for employees. But the city is still looking at a $5.7 million shortfall. Today, they discussed ways to make it up.

One suggestion, cutting city jobs, nearly 80 of them. Padgett didn't like that idea. "A dollar into the community is spent at least seven times. If we cut out 80 people, then you can multiply their dollars, their income, by seven and that's the kind of negative impact that we have the community. That puts small businesses over the edge, out of business, creates more unemployment, and it just becomes a vicious circle."

A more acceptable option to some, raising property taxes by three cents which would restore more than $4 million.

The city would still need to make up the rest, which could mean a combination of salary reductions, tax increases, and getting rid of a few things, like the Wilmington Police Department's SABLE helicopter program and the Empie Park Fire Station.

Another idea that stirred up the room, taxing internet sweepstakes cafes by the machine or by the business. More than 50 of the cafes have popped up around town.

Whatever ideas are adopted, City Council members promise they're looking out for the public's best interest. "Be patient. If there was an easy fix, we would have already done it, these are tough decisions that we have to make and rest assured we're all keeping their financial well-being in mind as well, I know I am," says Council member Charlie Rivenbark. Padgett adds, "I think if we can get through the next year or so, hopefully things will begin to look better."

City Council members have to put the 2010-2011 budget together by next month and they will vote on it in June. Council members talked about cutting their own salaries to help with the budget shortfall.

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.

»

BALANCE THE BUDGET!

Here is a novel idea as far as our federal government is concerned. Balance the Budget; Spend what you take in; Do Not Raise Taxes in a Recession.
VOTE THE SALES TAX INCREASE DOWN.
Any increase in taxes, NEVER stops another tax increase. Property taxes will still be raised, unless the citizens say NO to all tax increases. We are not your piggy bank.
Cut expenses, Do NOT Raise Taxes.
SIMPLE.

Parks get names, politicians get money

Parks get names, politicians get money. Anybody see a trend here and maybe that is why we have so many freakin' parks here? Pubic parks and funding have been and always will be a tool in the political toolbox to get and keep offices in this town/county.

The really sad part is that the politicians are putting on a operatic scale guilt trip in the form of public parks bonds and getting the public to vote for and fund them in taxes. The politicians in office can then always say they didn't enact the tax, the public WANTED IT!

And then the public whines about high taxes. Stupid is as stupid does.

Always a good practice to

Always a good practice to notify the public about laying off police officers...good practice through the news media to inform criminals that this is going to happen "that is"???..........
Just what this excuse for a city needs, less law enforcement. Or should I say an "Excuse for a City Council"..................

What about the county?

Didn't the the chairman of the County Commissioners just give a big speech on how they would have to raise taxes too or make loads of cuts? What is their budget deficit up to now? I have to pay city AND county taxes but I didn't see any report on the county - only the city. Did I just miss that?

Can anyone provide me with feedback on the county?

WTF?

I cant belive council even suggest closing parks, how about stop working on the convention center, forget the stupid tennis building at empie park (the park has now been ruined because of the scores of huge trees taken down). There has to be other areas to cut besides parks!
No I would not vote for any tax increase.

Budget

Apprently when you get elected into a public office you instantly become dumber. Right in the midst of a recession the city decides it's a good idea to build this stupid convention center...right there is part of the spending problem. Who the hell is going to use that convention center???

In a city with a horrible drug and crime problem, do you think it's a good idea to lay off police? What will happen when they do and crime really gets out of control? People will whine and cry and blame the police for all the problems.

It really takes a pair to get on tv and talk about how broke the city is when you travel on these retreats and eat at the best restruants on the city's dime.
Why can't you have a retreat right there in the council chambers..why do you need to travel.

Everyone needs to remember that these city employees that they are talking about laying off are people too with families that count on them.

a little sacrafice from all for the better good

So tell me, how many of you NO TAX INCREASE supporters have only gottenone raise in the LAST 10 YEARS? I'm going to guess NONE OF YOU. The city has only given itself a "raise", (increased property taxes), one time in the past 10 years, in 2009, and that was only because of the NHC tax man's screw up. So why is it you all expect city leaders to run the city to the quality we have grown accustomed to, with the same funds from 10 years ago? Can any of you live off the money you were making 10 years ago? How many of you would have sat by quietly and worked for the same
company if you had only gotten 1 raise in the past 10 years? I'm guessing no one is that stupid. Yet, all you no tax increase people are asking that of our city government. The only way the city can give itself a raise, is by asking it's employer (the tax payer) to fork up a little more money each month, and considering it's amounts to about $5 a month,
I don't think that is too much to ask, to keep our current standard of life. You make suggestions that government employees should take furlough days and paycuts, and eliminate positions, but how many of you have made that same sacrafice during these tough times. I would have a serious problem with my employer asking me to take unpaid time off, or
a paycut, or to not get a raise for a couple of years. So what does my employer do instead? He raises the prices to the customers for his product. Therefore all of the customers pay a little more with each purchase, to help cover the rising costs, rather then have the company close,
or have to cut back on employees. If this is how it works in the private sector, why do you Government Haters think it should not also work
this way in the public sector. If you all don't want to fork up a couple of dollars each month to help keep the city running to the standard we have grown accustomed to, then I think they should start cutting things
from the budget, non-essential things. Swimming pools, and parks,
and other things that make our lives better, but are not a necessity.

So you say how many of us

So you say how many of us have had a raise how about the ones that are on commison that are making less beause of the econemy We have anexed how many homes cut how many jobs already they are making more money but not using it in to keep up what we have lets build new and buy more says the criminals The City of Wilmington is a fine place to live and if you dont think so ask the hundreds that have moved here O is that more taxes that are Paied in Think about it Safo GIVE YOUR SEAT UP TO SOMEONE THAT LOVES WILMINGTON FOR WHAT IT IS

You're kidding, right?

So you're telling me that the "tax man's screw up" was the only raise they've gotten in 10 years? How close have you followed the real estate values in this region over the past 6 years or so. The tax value on my home has increased 61% in that time frame. So, that would equate to a 61% "raise" without the city raising the "rates" one dime.
Now that property values are falling, they're not running around and dropping the tax values back to where they were. Oh no, if they did that they would RAISE THE RATES. But guess what, they didn't have any problems at all taking in all the revenues they collected when the values shot up.
Also, apparently you don't understand the reason most employers would even consider asking you to take a pay cut. This measure is typically considered as a means to not eliminate any positions. Basically, everyone feels a little pinch but no one get's their head put in the noose.
Now the last part, your kind of thinking is what is going to cause inflation to be the next kick in the pants. If everyone raises their prices then the amount of money spent will be reduced even further. If you reduce the revenue flow then manufacturing must cut back and guess what, higher unemployment and a further drain on our already bankrupt city thus this article.

Not a good argument

There are a couple of problems with your argument. You can always go onto the county's website and check the historical tax rates, and in fact, you'll see that the city actually lowered taxes about five years ago.

The other problem is that after the county revalues property and "gives the city and county a raise" as you call it, tax rates are adjusted to what is called revenue neutral. That means the tax rates get adjusted so the city cannot make money when property values go up.

I believe I would have appealed the county's last revaluation on my home if it increased 61%.

On the contrary

It is important to note that even with a revenue-neutral tax rate owners of real property will usually pay
more after a revaluation (a revenue neutral rate is defined as “the rate that is estimated to produce
revenue for the next fiscal year equal to the revenue that would have been produced for the next fiscal
year by the current tax rate if no reappraisal had occurred”). How can that be? Personal property
makes up a large percentage of the total tax base of New Hanover County. Personal property is valued at market
value each year, while real estate is valued at market value every four years. A lower tax rate will
result in less tax generated by personal property. So the net effect is that the tax base is re-equalized
with more of the overall tax burden shifting back to real property.

Don't mention this to City Council...

but the only thing I've not heard mentioned is a City Income Tax...oh crap, did I say that?

Golf Course

Hey dont forget we are going to buy a 500,000 golf course that we do not need half to be a park the other to remain a golf course that we will need employees to maintain.This town has gone to the dogs. We need to fire everyone of them sitting on the council and start over with no realators bankers or people that have there own construction companys.This town was a tourist attraction before they ever touched it with. By building the convention center or parking decks or more condos how many of these people that sit on the council have had there pockets padded to help with the anexation for the neighborhood being built off of river road that we are re routing roads for you bought the land make the best out of it. The convention center the housing that was built and then failed because of mold How much more can this town take before we are sold to China before the US is?

Government should limit

DSS will give food stamps to a mother with five kids but will not make the absent parent/parents pay childsupport. Public Housing/Section 8 will house them for free or a little of nothing and allow the baby daddy/daddies to stay there. Ride around any public housing site and you will see nice cars and guys standing around outside not even trying to go to work. Why go to work when they are getting everything for FREE? If we started cutting back on the handouts and make people accountable for defrauding the system they'll stop it. Right now they are milking the system and US the tax payers are paying for it.

Don't buy Inland Greens

How about not spending 4 million plus on Inland Greens. We have one City golf course, we don't need another right now.

inland greens

That money comes from a bond that was passed 4 years ago. The people that voted for it (overwhelmingly, if I remember correctly) told the city they wanted them to basically take out a loan to spend it on parks. The bond money needs to be spent on what the city promised us it would be spent on. It can't be just thrown back in the pot, unfortunately. The city has to pay back the loan, whether or not they spend the money. If they don't do something with it, it seems to me that it would be like taking out (and starting to pay back) a mortgage before you have the house.

Where are you getting the $4 million figure? The city offered only $550,000 and for 31 acres, that's actually a pretty good deal. If they buy it now, maybe they can sell it in a few years when real estate picks up again and make a little money for us...

There must be other ways they can trim. Another poster hit the nail on the head. We will all have to sacrifice - whether it's with decreased services or with a tax increase.

Really

Why do you have the money for a parks, and people still run on the roads and ride bikes, Why aren't they jogging in the parks that just cost millions to build. And why do so many police, fire, ems go to a crime sceen? When they show them on TV they are all standing around. Cut some of that. why is there so many people on the soap box about NO new business, the parks, will be great to live in when we are all homeless, and have no work because business can't come here or they move. Open the books and really look at them you will find the right answers to the money problems.. Don't just say I have money problems. Find out what cause it to start with. You will find it is who manages it. Change that and you will find the money

TAXES

WAKE UP!!!! You're leading us down the same path as California and New York. Keep raising taxes and the taxpayers will move away leaving us a BROKE WELFARE STATE. You were elected to do a job which includes balancing the city budget. If you're not capable of doing that job - quit. Some suggestions:
Don't buy another golf course.
Halt developement until you can pay for repairing the present infrastructure.
Sell the police helicopter.
Bond or no bond - stop building things like soccer stadiums and tennis courts. Stop anything other than grounds maintenance for parks.

Sell the new Convention

Sell the new Convention Center when it's finished to someone that can afford it. Maybe to a group that want to turn it into a dog breeding farm. There's always a market for huntin' dogs round these parts!

How about

How about the City Council take a pay cut or how about we get rid of a few of them. Fewer of them to come up with stupid ideas to tax us even more. How about that?

Why don't we cut the spending on the CAM, raise their property taxes. Why don't we cut trips to Washington DC? Why didn't we quit with the road construction on Front Street? It didn't need it. Why is it the bridge on 3rd by CFCC needs road repairs but they opted for the liberal "make front street pretty" project. Put in a divider and make the intersections more bumpy. THAT was a waste of money.

What ever happened to "ALL the revenue" the Annexation was supposed to pull in. It sounds like that has added more burden to the city budget.

city council considering a property tax increase

City Government works for the people! The people do not work for city Government! The people are reducing their expenses because they cannot come up with any more income. City and County Governments should do the same. NO MORE TAXES! This is the perfect time to get rid of non essential services and non essential people. If it hurts the economy. So be it! It is better for the economy in the long run if we have less government.

EIther way, Citizens pay

Either way, raise property taxes or close fire stations, the citizens pay.

If Firehouses are closed, property owners insurance rates go up. However, the fallout from closures could be far greater including a loss of life. (Which has been happening all over the country)

$5.7 million budget shortfall

I cannot believe that every time our city/county needs additional revenues the first thing that pops up is "Let's raise taxes".

I'm struggling every single day to keep the doors to my business open. My business if off over 65% from 2 years ago and is projected to stay that way for at least another year. I've got competitors who are offering the same services as me 15 to 20 percent below cost. I don't have a magic area to go get additional revenues.

I've worked for over a year without any salary just to keep my employees working and keep their health insurance intact. I can't go much longer like this and once again our trusted government officials want to drive another nail in my coffin.

Instead of killing the people who are doing things the right way, why don't we get rid of our "good old boy" way of doing things. Why don't we audit the personal property of local businesses. Wake County & Mecklenburg County both conduct these annual audits and collect millions of dollars of additional tax revenues. For some reason, New Hanover County & Wilmington will not conduct these audits. Why not go after the businesses who continually hire all of their workforce and pay them under a 1099 when none of the employees meet the government's criteria for "self employed independent contractors."

There are additional revenue sources available to our city & county that don't involve increasing property tax rates, they just choose to not acknowledge them.

5.7 Million Shortfall-Say no to more taxes.

Taxed2Much-

I agree we have to stop raising taxes every time we need money. Why is that always the answer? I also own a small business and have seen a drop in revenue,therefore a major drop in my salary, so should I just raise the price for all of my other customers? Gosh I wonder what would happen? Maybe I'll just call it a TAX INCREASE. I'm sure that will make it ok.

We are all both personally and professionally having to tighten our belts and make tough cuts in our budgets. I wxpect our government to do the same.

Why as a homeowner do I have to pay more. Am I getting more services than nonhomeowners? Do I somehow magically have more money because I own a home? Where is the logic in any of this?

Homeowners and business are the backbone of the economy and I am getting arthritis. If they keep chipping away the bone, pretty soon we're all going to need major surgery then what? Oh right. We have universal health care now?

CUT THE BUDGET PERIOD.

Here are a

couple of thoughts:

1. Require permits for all the panhandlers and beggars who pose as "street entertainers" to legitimize their ability to roam the streets with their hands out. Say $100 a head. No Permit badge, which they would wear visibly to let everyone know they have the City's seal of approval, straight to jail or the Brunswick County line.

2. Borrow a page from Brunswick County. Rather than penalize and arrest, Legalize "Gentlemen's Clubs". Think of all the fees and taxes which would flow into the City Coffers. Might do wonders for the proposed convention center.

3. How about a special City use tax for the public housing residents who drive high end SUVs or luxury automobiles.

4. How about sentencing the parents, of youthful miscreants hauled into court for being out late at night, school behaviour infractions, or for acts of teen age violence, to community service cleaning up the streets and picking up trash. The City will save some funds which can be earmarked for other uses and there will no doubt be some home based motivational sessions when the parents get home from a week-end of trash picking.

5. Cut out support to the Wilmington Movie Commission. That's a Hundred large saved. Clearly the Movie Advocate, who gets paid $120,000 by the Commission, must not be on top of things. Were he, her Highness, and an entourage of 23, would not have traveled to Hollywood to learn the current tax incentives are inadequate. For that matter, there's still no word on whether he was one of the 23. If he was not, that's a clear sign of his performance abilities.

There are 5 waste cutters or revenue generators; I'm certain some other thinking individuals can come up with others.

Ridiculous Proposals!!! LOL!!!!!

1. Require permits for all the panhandlers and beggars who pose as "street entertainers" to legitimize their ability to roam the streets with their hands out. Say $100 a head. No Permit badge, which they would wear visibly to let everyone know they have the City's seal of approval, straight to jail or the Brunswick County line.---and what badge would you wear?? The rich superficial badge which would be the picture of a donkey
2. Borrow a page from Brunswick County. Rather than penalize and arrest, Legalize "Gentlemen's Clubs". Think of all the fees and taxes which would flow into the City Coffers. Might do wonders for the proposed convention center.----of course a VIP would want that legalized so you wouldnt have to hide and dodge behind fences
3. How about a special City use tax for the public housing residents who drive high end SUVs or luxury automobiles.---how do you know what housing residents drive unless you up in there cruising??
4. How about sentencing the parents, of youthful miscreants hauled into court for being out late at night, school behaviour infractions, or for acts of teen age violence, to community service cleaning up the streets and picking up trash. The City will save some funds which can be earmarked for other uses and there will no doubt be some home based motivational sessions when the parents get home from a week-end of trash picking.----really..so in your perfect world you think that parents are to blame for what teenagers do outside of their eyesight..if you are going to bring school infractions into this..lets sentence the teachers too..
5. Cut out support to the Wilmington Movie Commission. That's a Hundred large saved. Clearly the Movie Advocate, who gets paid $120,000 by the Commission, must not be on top of things. Were he, her Highness, and an entourage of 23, would not have traveled to Hollywood to learn the current tax incentives are inadequate. For that matter, there's still no word on whether he was one of the 23. If he was not, that's a clear sign of his performance abilities.----yes lets cut any support to income we have coming in to the counties to create an even bigger debt..

Dont think about running for political office..

Original Thoughts

on your part. Perhaps part of the problem is so many, like you at the head of the list, do a cut and paste.

Why not expound with some original thoughts on how the City might address the issues without raising taxes or cutting jobs.

What are you one of the entitlement recipients?

But then, that might require a brain. You are living proof it is better to remain silent and appear a fool then to speak and remove all doubt.

You forgot

6. No more out of town trips and let Sparks pay his own way to be a member of his racist club.
7. No more money given to private groups... Cameron Museum, Arts Council.
8. Fire Saffo.

And yet another source of revenue...

9. Get the Titan Cement Plant up and running to give us some JOBS...AND...the much needed revenue the county needs...

and for good measure

10. Never allow saffo to hold any public office.