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FIRST ON 3: City spending $25,000 of your money on Gravely Commissioning

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3 @ 5: City spending $25,000 of your money on Gravely Commissioning
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UPDATE - In this struggling economy, many worry Wilmington's City Council needs to be saving money, not shelling it out. But council members voted unanimously to give out another $25,000 to a local PR company.

Tuesday night, city council agreed to give the money to McColl & Associates to help fund the commissioning of the USS Gravely in November.

President Louise McColl would not make time to meet with us Friday but told us over the phone the money will be used to help feed sailors and VIPs in town and provide buses and trolleys for them throughout the 12 days of the event.

The recession has been hard on both the city and county and both have talked about raising taxes to help make ends meet. But dishing out $25,000 for food and transportation is something City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark says is well worth it.

"I agree it's tough times but the return on investment, I think will be far more than $25,000," says Rivenbark. "Those people who come to town, those four or five thousand people and about 1,200 family members of the crew, they've got to rent motel rooms, hotel rooms, they eat, they buy gas, they buy souvenirs, I mean they'll shop in our stores."

McColl says she plans on asking New Hanover County for another $25,000. Rivenbark says it'll take another $200,000 to commission the 509-foot guided-missile destroyer and that will come from the federal government. He says giving the money is the least the city could do.

"For a city to be picked to commission a United States Naval ship is a rare opportunity and quite an honor," says Rivenbark. "To get to be asked twice is extremely unusual. And we did such a good job on the USS North Carolina submarine that they decided to do the Gravely here."

We were also told that if the sailors want to have fun on their own, like visiting Jungle Rapids or going deep sea fishing, they will have to pay for it out of their own pockets. Rivenbark says when the USS North Carolina was commissioned in 2008, the city gave the same PR company $50,000.

McColl says the $50,000 from the city and county won't even cover the cost of food and transportation. They will need another $20,000 - 30,000, which she says will come from private donations.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - While both the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County continue the conversation of raising taxes to help make ends meet in this recession, the city agreed to give $25,000 this week to help fund the Commissioning of the USS Gravely later this year.

The money will be used to help entertain the sailors and VIP's in town that week, according to McColl and Associates, the local public relations firm in charge of the event.

The firm also plans on hitting up County Commissioners for more money.

Organizer Louise McColl wouldn't make time to talk with us today but Hailey is talking to members of the City Council to find out where the money is coming from. See her story today on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 5.

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.

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