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WILMINGTON NC (WWAY) — Downtown business and property owners were fired up after a plan to raise property taxes in downtown was shared.

Almost two years ago the Wilmington City Council asked Wilmington Downtown Inc. to look into a possible property tax increase for downtown property owners. A task force was put together, and Wednesday night the task force shared their plan publicly.

A task force made up of downtown stakeholders like property owners and business owners spent the last year and half looking at establishing an MSD, or Municipal Service District.

Clark Hipp, task force member and downtown property owner, said a MSD would help pay for unarmed public safety ambassadors, economic development programs and maintenance.

“Things will degrade in downtown if we don’t pay attention to our overall environment. I believe downtown requires extra services, and this an opportunity for us to decide what those extra services are,” said Hipp.

The task force came up with imposing a seven cent tax for every $100. They used the example of the Husk on Front Street and Dock, to explain how much an MSD would cost. For that building which valued at about $660,000, the MSD tax would be about $460 each year.

The properties that would be affected would be those already in the Central Business District, which is the core of downtown.

Alan Murphy said the MSD is unnecessary.

“My biggest problem with the fact that it is not needed,” said Murphy.

Murphy, who owns Coastal Kicks on Front Street, said owners should be doing the services themselves.

“I’m involved with every single aspect of my store and I feel that’s why we are still open, if a business owner wants somebody else to do everything else, get a job and get out of my way,” said Murphy.

Murphy said he is also concerned the MSD is being forced on them and others felt that way as well.

Hipp said they have been transparent and open during this process.

He said the services are needed so downtown can continue to compete for business.

“The city is growing around us and we have many retail centers that are coming up in the city,” said Hipp.

While those who would be affected by the tax had a chance to speak their peace, the ultimate decision is left to the Wilmington City Council. The task force is expected meet one more time before they take the plan to council in February.


Comment on this Story

  • Gruntlip McGerkan

    ….and not one of these businesses, ever for one second, saw this coming?
    Yes…it’s one huge amazing joke that residents turn their heads to City Council and their underground plans to scrape up your money every chance they get.
    I really believe that the citizens of Wilmington just really *hope these issues just go away*…but at the same time, have someone else take care of it for them. But Wait!!…. “It’s what they pay *them* for” isn’t it???
    Pay whom?? The ones getting paid are the ones sitting in City Hall…and will continue to sit there as long as this sort of “citizen participation/involvement” is limited to the dinner table topic of discussion…and that’s as far as it ever gets…until it’s too late!
    A silent Mayor you’ve got there…until it’s “Cash and Carry Time”.
    The bed has been made…the votes were counted (One ran unopposed…”Again”)…and it has backfired on the small business folk. Now you all know why every breath that came out of Saffo’s mouth, was promoting downtown this and that. It’s Real Estate, and now he’s there to
    collect…as always. Higher taxes on these folks will mean higher prices passed on to you folks. That goes without saying until…downtown becomes “Drowned Town”.
    Good luck…Yallzins will need it! Maybe that Knight in Silver riding his horse thru town with fix it! Yep!

  • Christopher Meyers

    I don’t know that I’ve ever known anyone to be exhilarated about tax increases, but the city peeps have been sitting on their duffs for far too long. They’ve allowed the same mayor and city council members with the same careless spending practices to remain in office multiple terms, Only 13% got out of their easy chair to vote during the past 2 elections. There is nothing worse than this sort of apathy for the control of tax monies by municipalities.
    Now you want to get up and get angry, yell about it and point fingers? You lost your opportunities several times. Maybe next time you’ll be more motivated to take the effort to vote in responsible city leaders!
    Remember the semi-pro ballpark issue and all of the money wasted on that fiasco? Remember the new marinas that weren’t needed or wanted because the slips that are available aren’t even being used. They did it anyway. Remember the vacant river-front land with contamination that sat vacant for so many years. The city just bought that for a ton of money. Now they;re going to spend a ton of money to turn it into another crack park. Nobody wanted that, but it happened anyway. Remember the parking deck fiasco that is ongoing, the convention center nobody wanted and the subsequent adjacent hotel joke that has run for years on end?
    With all of that going on, nobody has rallied against the city leaders, nobody voted and has allowed this to happen. I just don’t understand how people that witness these things going on all around them, in their own city, on a constant basis, don’t understand that the money trough will empty quickly and they’re going to be reaching into your pockets for more!

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