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City Council looks at $5.7 million shortfall

READ MORE: City Council looks at $5.7 million shortfall

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.

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I did not forget. I was just unaware. I did suggest funding be cut to the film commission.

Heck, I'm in Raleigh often enough; and know most of the people in the legislature. I'll lobby for the tax credit revision at no charge up front. Just pay my expenses and give me a % of the first year revenue generated by filming in NC.

That's called perfomance based compensation which is something unheard of outside the private sector.

Very true

Yes, once in government employment there is no need to perform or watch the bottom line because they have access to unlimited funding. I would be careful admitting to knowing the folks in Raleigh, you might get some of the tar & feathers that are being collected for them.


You got my vote.


Nice username you picked there.

I do what I can

It is a tribute, to my hero, guesty.


If I'm your hero you might want to get out a little more often. I'm just a guy with common sense.

Brooklyn Arts Center Padgett Ordinance

Padgett is asking council to forgive a $250K debt to the city's general fund from the private sale of the brooklyn arts center tuesday night - this is in addition to the $250K the city has already forgiven them - this is for an ARTS COUNCIL - do the citizens know that these sale proceeds are theirs and what makes the art council more worthy than the salvation army or other agencies that provide direct services??????!!!!!!!


I think Council person Padgett may have meant it takes 7 hard earned dollars taken from working people to get about 1 dollar worth of anything out of a Government "employee." Maybe if you all meet and talk about cutting your salaries everyday (say at Ruths Chris), the problem will go away and we can all finaly have ice cream and fried Unicorn. Now, fire 80 employees and lower taxes like we are paying you to.

Bright idea.

Sure - "fire" 80 employees (which would most likely be in public safety since that's where the majority of the city's budget goes). Really brilliant. Let's add to our unemployment rate.

The city did a retirement incentive last year and eliminated something like 100 jobs I think. I'm sure a lot of these city workers you just criticized are already doing the job of two or three people. How do you expect the city's services not to suffer when you want to eliminate even more employees?

They need to look in other places and do furloughs like the county did. And let's just cut back on some of the non-profit spending during this time.

By the way, maybe you should check on the historical tax rates on the county's website.

Why don't they just annex

Why don't they just annex something else? I thought that was how Saffo and his crew raised extra funds.

5.7 shortfall

Sell Sable for sure . Put all Fire stations maned by 3 shifts 3Personal @ 3-24hrs shifts Stop sending fire rescue unless police called for Fire Dept


Do NOT sell Sable! Sable has been of great benefit to WPD and the citizens. Sable has been instrumental in catching those who try to evade. WPD has already seen cuts...I don't see how we can in good conscience cut them again and still expect them to perform optimally.

Cutting fire stations and also cutting personnel from the remaining stations also seems quite awful to me. Our firefighters do WAY more than just tend to fires. Because fire stations are spaced out, they are sent on certain EMS calls. They respond to delta and echo (cardiac arrest) level calls. Firefighters must have basic life support training, and it's put to use until EMS arrives on scene. Additionally, certain EMS calls require both paramedics to be in the back during transport of a patient to a hospital. When this happens, a firefighter drives the ambulance to the hospital. In this instance, cutting fire stations and cutting remaining personnel is truly life-threatening.

Firefighters also assist on law calls. They are called on to help decon an area due to traffic accidents. They are also called upon to make access into structures.

Last but not least...the obvious. Firefighters have very dangerous jobs. Cutting personnel and stations puts the remaining firefighters in danger. Our firefighters respond to MANY types of calls. There's a reason why: PUBLIC SAFETY.


Does anyone even realize that the city's firefighters are leaving in droves to greener(higher paying)pastures? So far this year, I know of at least 3 that have left. They moved on to better jobs where their employers actually pay them what they are worth. The city pays crap to their public safety officials and way too much to people who sit and talk about how they have no money to give those people who put themselves in danger everyday, but yet go onto treat family and friends to expensive dinners on our dime. In the words of my 4 yr old; "Redonkulous"

Jim Z, Your Brilliant.......Blah

Your right, you can cut fire stations back to less people....What does that equal? More engines, trucks, and rescues have to go to calls. PEOPLE take care of the community's needs, not equipment.

Police officers are not Emergency Medical Technicians and/or Firefighters. (There may be some that are certified, however it's not thier job).

Get educated. Look at other cities throughout the US that are cutting public safety. It has already been documented many times where people are dying (let alone the injuries) in areas where Public Safety officials are being layed off.

The problem is people do not want services until they are needed. Who needs the Fire Department, the Police Department and (Ambulances)? Wait, Corning needed them....UNCW needed them, The people off on Sidberry road needed them. Downtown needs them.

Remember too, if you cut the services your homeowners insurance goes up. Who's gonna pick up that tab? You gonna complain about insurance rates then too?