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City council OK's budget for now


Wilmington's next budget is one step closer to being finalized. By a vote of four to two, council approved the proposed budget.

This year the city needs to make up for a nearly six million dollar shortfall. On the table, is a 3.75 cent property tax to offset the deficit. This would increase the property tax to 37 cents per 100 dollars. Some residents say they don't mind paying more.

"I think that we need to pay what we need to pay to have all of our services. Those services are important services, fire, police. For the county too we need to pay for our libraries," Wilmington resident, Maggie Parrish said.

Council members Kristi Tomey and Charlie Rivenbark voted against the budget. Some council members took issue with the city's creation of a code enforcement position to police sweepstakes cafes. Approximately 55 thousand dollars was set aside for that job. A post Charlie Rivenbark felt wasn't necessary.

Council is expected to make a final vote on the budget at the June 15 meeting.

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One issue

with the budget process. While Wilmington may be an exception, all of the Counties which are developing their budgets, including Pender County, are relying on an uncertain amount of revenue from the State.

There was a report on this media noting that as of the close of business on May 28, the State still had 312,000 unprocessed tax returns with extimated refunds of $221,000,000.

The House and Senate have still not reached an agreement on a fundable budget. The State constitution mandates a balanced budget. There's only so much that can be borrowed from the Highway Fund and the Education Lottery before they go broke; that may explain the move to extend the Lottery Commission to all of the internet sweepstake cafes.

The Director of Revenue has reported the State's General Revenue Fund is stretched thin with no apparent borrowing power through the end of the 2012 Fiscal Year.

The legislators appear to be relying on Federal funds and stimulus money which just will not be there when needed.

And once it'a all done, they have to get the Governor's signature on it. And remember, this time last year, she refused to sign until they used some smoke and whistles to fund a couple of her pet projects.

I believe the County Governments will find their budget work is far from over. And, the blood letting and cutting on a local level have not really begun.

All of the give away programs of the Easley and Perdue administrations are coming home to roost; and now it will be up to the taxpayers to somehow foot the bill. Sadly, they don't seem to have gotten the message in Raleigh as many of the legislators, including Representative Spaulding-Hughes with her ludicrous HB-1937, are attempting to pad special interest measures into an unworkable budget environment.

Remember that when you go to vote in November.