City of Wilmington adopts $251M budget, joins American Flood Coalition

The budget goes into effect on July 1st, 2022.
City Council
(Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council adopted the $251 million balanced budget for the fiscal year 2023, which goes into effect July 1st.

The city’s plan guided the development of the budget, which prioritizes affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, and providing high-quality core services.

Council is investing $2.15 million in affordable housing, which will support and expand affordable housing options, including the Homeownership Opportunity Program and Rental Rehabilitation Incentive Loan Program, as well as gap financing to develop new affordable housing options.

This represents an increase of $561,071 in new funding for affordable housing.

The budget provides citywide salary adjustments to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce to deliver core city services like street repaving, recycling and trash, parks and recreation, fire protection and police services, and support functions.

It also includes $3.7 million for service improvements.

The FY23 budget allocates $6 million to further substantiate the street rehabilitation program with more significant efforts on proactive and preventative practices, nearly $1 million for sidewalk rehabilitation, and additional funding for pavement markings and dirt street paving.

It also includes added staff to help accelerate the completion of transportation projects.

The city maintains a healthy fund balance, which it relies upon during emergencies like hurricanes.

This budget includes a fund balance up to 30 percent of the general fund, which allows the city to continue serving no matter the circumstances.

In a press release from Wilmington City Council, they stated: “Even though social services fall beyond the scope of city government, we have a shared responsibility to invest in the valuable work of local non-profits, faith-based organizations, and other community-building programs in support of the community’s well-being that’s why the budget includes $1.25 million for public service agencies, civic partners, and economic development agencies.”

The budget carefully and thoughtfully balances ensuring a safe and inclusive city with community-based approaches
to public safety.

Public safety makes up the largest percentage of the general fund expenditures, which includes funding for emergency services like fire and police.

The FY23 budget includes 5 new officers to patrol downtown, 2 gun crime investigators to serve on the Gun Crimes Task Force, nearly $1 million to open and operate a new fire station, hire 15 firefighters, purchase life-saving gear, and much more.

How does this impact property tax bills? Well, the new tax rate of 0.3950 is slightly above revenue neutral, meaning the average homeowner will see an increase of $38 on their property tax bill.

Also at Tuesday’s regular meeting, the city council voted unanimously to join the American Flood Coalition following Mayor Bill Saffo’s visit to Washington D.C. to speak with legislators and other states about how to combat flooding and create the infrastructure that can withstand it.

“This was a significant moment I believe for the state and state delegation and to talk about the great things we’re doing in the state of North Carolina for flood mitigation and the efforts each community is taking to help alleviate flooding in their communities,” Saffo said.

The American Flood Coalition is a bi-partisan nonprofit that helps communities adapt to sea-level rise and flood resilience.

According to Tony McEwen, the Carolinas Director for the coalition, Saffo and Pender County Commissioner Jackie Newton were essential in getting millions of dollars in funding put in the state budget to help communities address flooding issues.

“When natural disaster strikes, when some of the flooding we’re seeing on a more regular basis happens, they have a better plan in place and their infrastructure is built up to a certain point where it’s going to be safer for their community as well as save taxpayer dollars on the back end,” McEwen said.

For more information on the American Flood Coalition, visit here.

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