WILMINGTON -- The city of Wilmington is facing a budget challenge. The solution city officials have come up with is to hike up the cost of living here. After a tax rate error the city is facing a $6 million deficit. And when you add that to the hurting economy, the city has to make up some cash -- and fast. Attention all homeowners: your property tax may be going up, and the city says, the county is to blame. Wilmington Communications Manager Melissa Talbert said, "Largely because of a miscalculation by the county of a tax rate, we have to bring our tax rate back up to where it was before the mistake." The state mandates the city review its budget around this time every year, and low and behold, the city is over $6 million. To compensate for this deficit the city is proposing a fourteen percent property tax increase. Local homeowners are not happy. Homeowner Thurman Burgess said, "I don't want to pay tax period." Burgess's family has been living and paying taxes in Wilmington for more than 100 years. Whatever the city decides, he wants to make sure the right people are paying the right amount. Burgess said, "If I can be assured that this money will be distributed and used equitably among all the citizens of Wilmington I would gladly pay the fourteen percent." The city hasn't had to raise taxes in over five years. The 14 percent increase would also help fund city vehicles and salary increases for some city employees. Officials also hope to use the money to widen Independence Boulevard and to maintain streets and sidewalks. The tax increase will be briefly discussed at the City Council meeting Tuesday. The actual vote will not take place until June. We'll keep you posted.
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