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Wilmington City Council members discuss tight budget

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WILMINGTON -- It has been a long day for Wilmington City Council members. Much of an all-day session was devoted to the city's tight budget, due in part to the $7 million shortfall caused by an error in the county tax office. As Council Member Ronald Sparks said, it has been a tough year when it comes to the budget. He says the city is especially feeling the effects of the county's budget problems. One big issue: overtime for fire fighters. The fire department is already $160,000 over budget this year. The city will likely give the department a fixed overtime budget. The results of a pay study contrasting Wilmington with about 20 other comparable cities show employees aren't paid enough, so $2.5 million are slated to go toward salaries. The city manager's staff presented annexation recommendations based off models used in cities like Charlotte and Raleigh. The presentation recommended a two-year annexation cycle, meaning different areas would be annexed every two years. The majority of the council members favored the idea but say they still need more information. Sparks said, "I was at the city of Wilmington back when we did those large annexations and we lost some money in those transactions because we didn't fully count the cost of the annexation. There were things out there like road conditions, storm water conditions, that weren't factored in." It is a budget mishap the city will feel for years to come. Multi-use paths along Military Cutoff Road ended up costing more than $700,000 when they were budgeted for $250,000. A lack of communication between the city and DOT didn't catch the path overrun earlier. The city will most likely pay the difference over the next few years rather than all at once.

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tighen the belt

The city is worried about giving their employee's raises. What about the tax payers who have not had raises for several years either? What about the people who are on fixed income? Most business when things get tight they have to reduce their overhead. What has the city done to do this? Giving raises when there is not money is not a way to reduce overhead. But then again we have to think what we have for leaders. They sell the parking deck for below market value and then turn around and pay more to get a small park of it back (to build a new parking deck) than they got for the whole lot when they sold it.

Spending Tax Money

We vote our city and county leaders--our "tax spenders" into office. When will our citizens begin to care about how our funds are spent, and when will they hold city leaders accountable for expenditures? When they do, things will change. Yes, now think Convention Center.

Wilmington Tax Dollars At Work

Yes, our city leaders--the ones we trust with our scarce tax dollars--do spend on necessary services, and programs that enhance our area. But our city council and city managers need to more careful when managing our city funds. Let us not become a mini federal government when it comes to collecting and "spending" tax dollars. The Convention Center project is a prime example of what we cannot afford to do. Wish we could bail out of that one!

Cheat-em your name fits you well!

Its funny how you make them change the cities that were used to compare in the pay study. I bet you don't have a problem with your salary. Too bad that city out west didn't take you like you thought they were. Guess they wised up. Its pure sickening what this city pays their firefighters. I don't know how the city can find firefighters to work for what they do. God bless em because we sure need em.

I wonder why city and county

I wonder why city and county citizens don't have a say in this matter. I was listening to the radio this morning (talk show) and they were talking about how the City did their own study to find out how short our city compares to others, but the comparison wasn't accurate because Chetham (sp?) hand picked the cities he wanted to compare. Fire officials feel he should have used the entire SE region instead of a few hand picked citites in NC.

Question about annexation

The last time the city was on a mega "gimme-gimme" trip, and annexed the Masonboro and Landfall areas, did anyone attempt to take the issue of forced annexation to **FEDERAL** Court?

I don't see the problem. The

I don't see the problem. The new convention center will spin off profits to the city like crazy. It's a gold mine.... PS. The preceding statement was satire.

pay

I hope this is awake up call to city employees... FIND NEW JOBS..... Dont let them give you a little bit of money and a little hope that it will be fixed in the future. Cause it never will. It was done this way in the first pay study and its being done now. wake up guys.. run and run fast...

What budget?

The city doesn't have a budget like you and I. If they need more money, they just find creative ways to raise taxes, fees and annex, while continuing to spend like drunken sailors. If we were to do our jobs like government does theirs, we'd get fired. "$7 million shortfall caused by an error in the county tax office" "A lack of communication between the city and DOT" "A budget mishap" "we lost some money" "we didn't fully count the cost of the annexation" "employees aren't paid enough" Only in government can you make excuses like these.