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City budget passes, sweepstakes moritorium extended

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They worked it and re-worked it, talked about it and finally passed it.

Tuesday night, Wilmington City Council approved next year's budget by a vote of 5 to 2. Council members Kristi Tomey and Charlie Rivenbark voted against. Included in the budget is a 3.75 cent property tax increase to help make up for the nearly six million dollar deficit.

The budget also includes getting rid of 18 jobs. Employees will have to pay more in health insurance, but furloughs and pay cuts were not included in the 84 million dollar plan.

City Council also extended its moratorium on new sweepstakes cafes until August 15th. On Tuesday's agenda was an ordinance, outlining where cafes could operate and their proximity to churches and schools. City planners suggested that cafes need to be 500 feet from city parks, libraries, churches and schools.

There were also zoning restrictions. According to the city proposal, each currently operating café would have to move to be in compliance with the new rules. The proposed ordinance made owners and employees unhappy.

"I think its ridiculous. It's double standards. There's no reason to try and run people out of business. When you have a ten percent unemployment rate and you've got people that are working and paying their taxes and doing legitimate work, there's no reason to tell us we can't go to work," Easy Access Internet Sweepstakes employee, Sandra Sullivan said.

Council member Kevin O'Grady made some changes to city planners proposal. They include slashing the amount of time existing cafes would have before they needed to comply from five years to two. O'Grady argued that existing businesses could recoup their financial investment in a shorter amount of time than city planners allowed.

In the end, a motion was passed to extend the moratorium until August, while Tuesday's proposed changes were made to the ordinance. That way council could review the final proposal, before voting on it.

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