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City, county working on working together

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Like a marriage, for better or worse, the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are joined for life.

Today, leaders from both sides met to discuss their ideas and opinions.

"There's going to be some things that we agree upon, and there are going to be some things that we don't agree upon," Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said, "but I think the most important thing is that we try to find ways to work together to better deliver services to our citizens within the city and within the county."

City Council members, County Commissioners and everyone in between meet at the New Hanover County Government Center for breakfast and to talk shop. Saffo said he thinks the conversation went well. He said the city and the county do see eye to eye on some things, but not others.

One thing they agree on: The need for more law enforcement downtown.

"I think we're going to come away with something in regards to additional resources that we can apply to our downtown to keep it safe, at the same time, for everybody to be able to enjoy it when they go down there," Saffo said.

As always, the thing standing in the way is money.

County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said the county is working on its budget, but there will have to be cuts.

"We've done some great things to kind of keep our budget in line, but at the same time, recognizing that... we don't have an infinite source of money," he said. "And with no one having the will and nobody wants their taxes raised anyway, so if we're not going to raise taxes, which I think is a good thing, find ways that you can cut government even more so that you can maintain what you have."

Barfield said this means both the county and the city have to compromise. He said communicating different needs is the key to success.

"Once you start explaining things and people can understand where you're coming from, then you can work together on those common issues and make your community better," Barfield said. "Communication to me in relationships are just a foundation for effective government."

At the end of the meeting, Barfield said they couldn't agree on everything, but what they did agree on is to meet on a more regular basis to have theses types of conversations.

The county and the city say they now know what to focus and work on for their next meeting. They are excited about projects they have successfully completed together like Legion Stadium and the red light cameras.

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