New Hanover commissioners to hold budget workshop Thursday

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New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. Port City Daily file photo.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. Port City Daily file photo.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will hold a budget workshop at 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, which, as recommended, includes a 5-cent tax increase.

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet presented his recommended budget to commissioners at a meeting on May 4, during which commissioners didn’t comment much on the budget, instead opting to wait for Thursday’s workshop.

“It’s not a secret that I am asking–or recommending–to the board to raise the property tax,” Coudriet told commissioners. “I could only do that knowing with 110 percent confidence that we had analyzed literally every line item and had driven out unnecessary costs to make sure that this is the tightest budget possible, recognizing that I’m asking the board to redirect $15 million of taxpayer money into the general fund.”

If approved by commissioners, the county’s property tax rate would increase to 60.4 cents per $100 of property valuation to fund the $306 million general fund budget. The budget includes debt obligations for voter-approved schools and parks bond referendums from 2006 and 2008. Included in the $306 million general fund is $54 million in bond repayment.

Not included in Coudriet’s recommended budget, however, is any repayment toward the $160 million schools bond approved by New Hanover County voters in November 2014.

Coudriet’s recommended budget transfers $6.7 million from the county’s fund balance to the general fund for capital outlay and other one-time expenses.

The board’s public education allocation–for New Hanover County Schools and Cape Fear Community College–is recommended at $124.5 million. The public school system is recommended to receive $71.1 million in operating expenses–a $3.8 million increase from the current fiscal year–$3 million for capital expenses and nearly $20 million for debt repayment. Coudriet recommended $12.2 million for operating expenses and $17.5 in debt repayment for Cape Fear Community College.

Coudriet’s budget also includes $500,000 for economic development to attract “more, better paying jobs,” he said. He also recommended an additional $25,000 (above the county’s contractual obligation) for the county’s contribution to the Wilmington Film Commission and an additional $50,000 for Wilmington Business Development.

Thursday’s workshop will be held  ahead of the board’s regularly scheduled agenda review meeting at the county government complex, 230 Government Center Drive, Wilmington. Click here to read Coudriet’s proposed budget.