City council approves budget with 2.5 cent property tax increase is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Wilmington City Hall. File photo.
Wilmington City Hall. File photo.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday approved a $144 million budget, which includes $94.6 million for the city’s general fund, for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

City Manager Sterling Cheatham thanked council and staff for their hard work throughout the six-month budget process and asked that the budget go to a vote without an additional formal presentation.

The budget includes a 2.5 cent property tax increase that brings the city tax rate to 48.5 cents per $100 of assessed property. For the average homeowner–meaning a a home that’s worth $168,500–the impact of the property tax increase would be $3.51 per month or $42.13 per year.

The tax increase will continue funding debt payments on a $55 million transportation bond and help offset the loss of privilege licensee fees, according to Wilmington City Spokeswoman Malissa Talbert. The N.C. General assembly eliminated the privilege license tax on businesses in 2014, and will mean an estimated loss of $2.3 million for the city.

“We have a bond issue that was passed by the people of this city by a 65 percent vote; that’s 2 cents of this. So we only have a half cent that is truly an increase,” Councilman Kevin O’Grady said. “The other 2 cents is for additional capital projects that were promised in that bond issue and will be done over the next couple of years.”

The majority of 2015-2016 general fund allocations will go toward maintaining city services such as public safety ($45,233,963), transportation ($15,275,761) and general government ($14,362,234).

Also included in the approved budget were eight additional WPD detectives for more timely case management, continued funding for youth violence reduction and police community engagement, as well as additional funding for the transportation department for compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and shelters with benches.

The next city council meeting will be Tuesday, July 21, and will be the only council meeting held in July. If you would like to see  the agenda for last night’s city council meeting, you can click here, or to watch the meeting, you can visit the city video archive.