WILMINGTON -- Homeowners in Wilmington may soon have a three cent increase on property taxes. Wilmington City Council unveiled this year's budget proposal at last night's meeting. Taxes aren't the only thing that could go up. The property tax increase would be three cents above the City's revenue neutral rate, but lower from last year's overall tax rate. City Council member Jason Thompson said, "Our current rate is 49 cents, after re-evaluation it's going to be 32 cents. That's a 17 cent decline no matter what kind of math you use." The increase would bring about $4 million to the City of Wilmington, much of which would go to hire more police officers. Thompson said, "We want to arrest the criminals, we want to send them to the jails. That's what those two cents are for." The remaining money would go to beautify downtown and infrastructure needs, such as fixing roadways and sidewalks. Aside from the property tax increase the budget also proposes raising water and sewer bills about $40 on average annually. City Council would use that money to pay for $80 million in sewer repairs. Wilmington City spokesperson Malissa Talbert said, "Those funds are self-supporting, meaning the funds that we pay each month on our water and sewage is what pays for those repairs." Parking in the decks downtown or at the meters may also go up. And if you plan to play some golf at the municipal course, you might have to shell out an extra two bucks. Talbert said, "It badly needs some work. We need to beautify that before it gets to the point where it's not useful anymore." Trash rates are also increased in the budget proposal by about $3 a month on average. The proposal is just that: a proposal. Nothing in it is final. If you don't like what the council is proposing you can voice your opinion at the public hearing May 15. Council members expect to have the proposal finalized June.
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