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Budget, economy, crime hot topics in State of the City address

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo admits that the issues and challenges facing his city are many, but despite those issues Saffo says that progress is being made on multiple fronts.

In 2012 the city of Wilmington once again posted a balanced budget, and $23-million dollar surplus in the cities savings, which could be music to the ears of taxpayers.

WATCH OR READ THE MAYOR'S FULL STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

"The city and the county can collaborate and can identify ways to work together and lessen the tax burden on the citizens,” New Hanover County Commission Chair Woody White said. "I think you're going to see a lot more of that from the city and the county in the coming months."

According to Saffo private investment in the local economy has been a boost to the area economy, which has recovered from the economic downturn.

To continue the growth downtown the city is looking into new forms of regulatory reform, which has scared away businesses in the past.

"Cutting down the regulatory reform that's something we hear frequently from a lot of the downtown businesses," said John Hinnant of Wilmington Downtown Inc. "A lot of people aren't reporting on it but that's why some of our restaurants closed. The cost of regulation is often a tough part of business so I think reducing the regulation and easing the bureaucracy and helping to get projects through and out a lot faster is really important."

Public safety was another area that Saffo says saw remarkable growth in 2012, a year in which a new record low was set in the city of Wilmington for violent crime.

Despite the departments success police chief Ralph Evangelous says now is not the time for the department to rest on it's laurels.

"It's important for us to keep working and keep moving forward and that's a big piece of the whole economic development policy to make sure you've got a safe community because when you're trying to bring in business and you're trying to bring people into the community they need to feel safe," Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said.

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