Can Wilmington, New Hanover County get along?
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After days of tension between the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, some elected officials are ready to move on.
The past couple of days have been filled with bold statements from both sides. The question now is will the city and county be able to work with each other from here on out?
Tensions started to rise Tuesday, when Wilmington City Council decided to approve a developer’s request for voluntary annexation despite county officials urging the city not to do it.
The county fired back the next day by backing out of talks to build a minor league baseball stadium downtown.
While both sides may have their own thoughts on the recent disagreements, the city and county have to work together, like it or not.
“We’re all in this together,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We’re all trying to provide a level of service to our community, to our citizens, and it’s going to take us working together.”
Saffo has seen his share of disagreements during his years in office. He says there will always be tension between elected leaders, but he says part of the job is moving on.
“Hopefully we can overcome this strife, and I think we will, and I feel we will,” Saffo said.
But not everyone feels the same way.
“Until the city treats me and the county with respect, I don’t know how we will be able to work together down the road,” County Commission Chair Ted Davis told us during a phone conversation.
Davis says he’s disappointed in the city’s decision to approve the annexation request before hearing the county’s concerns.
“There has always been some disputes between us: the division of the sales tax, extra territorial jurisdiction. Those things come and go. You just have to get by those and continue to focus on what is important,” Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady said.
Former City Councilman and current County Commissioner Jason Thompson says as an elected official issues and agenda items have to be considered individually, without the hard feelings of previous outcomes.
“The bottom line is everything has to be evaluated on its own merits: this deal, the next deal and the ones thereafter. That’s how I always try to do it. I really don’t hold anything personal, and I can only speak for myself,” Thompson said.
We also asked the mayor and Councilman O’Grady about the future of the baseball stadium. They agreed it will be tougher without the county’s support, but they are hopeful that the city will find a way to build it.