Wilmington City Council and mayor compromise on proposed taxes



Property taxes and water/sewer fees in the city of Wilmington are still slated to go up, but not by as much as originally thought.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams and city council reached a compromise, Monday, agreeing on the mayor’s proposed property tax and water/sewer fee increases, but at a reduced rate.

In fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1, homeowners will see a 5 percent jump in property taxes, instead of a proposed 9.9 percent; that amounts to an extra $3.31 per month for a property with an average assessed value of $45,000.

Both sides also agreed to raise water/sewer fees 5 percent, down from a proposed 8 percent. The FY 2015 water and sewer fund budget also includes a 2 percent drop in the storm water rate increase to 5 percent, instead of 7 percent. The 5 percent increase in water, sewer and storm water fees would result in a $2.39 per month increase for the average water customer who uses 12,000 gallons of water per quarter of the year.

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Council President Theo Gregory said seven votes are needed to approve the budget compromise, which is scheduled for consideration during Thursday’s regular city council meeting.

Council said the compromise reduced ongoing and yearly expenditures by $794,000 and added $353,000 as a one-time expense to fund a new police academy to fill 15 police department vacancies. Four vacant positions were eliminated and city services will remain intact as compared with FY 2014 levels. Water and sewer services will also remain unchanged, despite a $400,000 reduction in ongoing, yearly expenses.

The compromise FY 2015 operating budget also reduces the projected surplus for the new fiscal year from $2.75 million to approximately $1.4 million. The council president described it as a reasonable surplus based on a budget that totals nearly $150 million.

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