Public input meeting to fund downtown improvements with special tax set for Monday

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A map of downtown Wilmington's Central Business District, which will make up the proposed municipal service district. Courtesy of the city of Wilmington.
A map of downtown Wilmington’s Central Business District, which will make up the proposed municipal service district. Courtesy of the city of Wilmington.

The city of Wilmington is considering creating a municipal service district downtown and are looking for public input on the proposal, which would fund downtown improvements through increased taxes within the district.

A meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 7 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall. It is not an official public hearing and will be more informal. Information about the proposed MSD will be given to attendees, who will be able to ask questions and voice their opinions about the matter.

Last month, Wilmington Downtown Inc. presented a report before the Wilmington City Council on what creating an MSD would do for downtown. At that meeting, council instructed city staff to look further into the issue and present a report to them later this spring.

Part of their instructions are to gather public input from businesses, property owners and residents that could be affected by the specially taxed district. If created, those within the district (which WDI suggested be limited to the central business district that is already in place) would see a tax increase of seven cents per $100 of property valuation. The estimated $276,000 a year that would generate would go toward supplemental services such as street cleaning, area beautification and ambassadors who would patrol the area on foot to help guide visitors as well as provide extra eyes and ears for safety.

Though WDI held several public meetings on the MSD prior to making their presentation to council, city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said this is the first meeting the city will host. According to Talbert, no other meetings have been scheduled so far, and council has yet to determine whether an official public hearing will be held on the matter.

If the city is to create an MSD, they will have to include it in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, which is currently being put together and will be voted on in the next few months. The next fiscal year begins on July 1.

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