Wilmington City Council approves 2020-21 budget in first reading

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While protesters marched just blocks away, Wilmington City Council held a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Council unanimously approved the budget in the first reading. There must be a second reading and second vote before it’s officially passed in order to give the public a chance to voice comments and concerns.

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The budget, which would go into effect July 1, contains no tax increase. However, due to financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic, several changes were made in order to maintain savings for a potential hurricane or other emergency situation.

The city opted to hold off on affordable housing initiatives and some capital improvement projects. However, some money has been set aside for more crucial roadwork and other projects.

“One of the things we’ve heard in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence with the amount of rain that we got, 103 inches of rain which played havoc on our streets, a lot of our streets have started to deterioriate,” Saffo said. “We as a council made it one of our number one priorities that we would continue to fund those resurfacing projects, so the council wanted to make some adjustments to that particular part of the budget.”

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says the coronavirus will also affect city jobs.

“There will be a hiring freeze on certain positions until we see what this will look like in the aftermath of this COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “As we reopen and re-evaluate this thing in six months, we may open up those hirings. But for right now, I think we’ve put a hiring freeze on everything.”

Council also to extend the state of emergency in Wilmington through June 26 due to COVID-19.

Other noteworthy items from Tuesday’s meeting:

  • YMCA & NHRMC gave a presentation about reopening city pools safely.
  • Council approved rezoning 2.05 acres of land located at 5220, 5232, 5238, and 5244 Greenville Loop Road, from R-15 Residential to Multi-Family to allow three duplexes and three single-family homes.
  • After public hearings at previous meetings, council voted to rename an unnamed alley off North 23rd Street between Chestnut Street and Princess Place Drive to Halterman Lane, after a former Wilmington Mayor.

Click here to view the council’s full agenda.