City readies for budget hearing

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The City of Wilmington’s $144.7 million recommended budget was presented to Wilmington City Council during its Tuesday, May 6 meeting. 

One of the main features of the recommended fiscal year -2014-15 budget is a 4 percent increase in salary expenditures for city employee raises. 

Public comment on the budget will be welcomed at council’s next meeting.

During council’s May 6 meeting, city budget director Lynn Heim said a 4 percent increase would pay for an across-the-board raise for all city employees as well as fix pay structures. 

Fire and police department pay scales have drawn the most scrutiny from councilmembers, city employees and citizens. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the recommended budget takes a step in fixing the issue. 

“It goes in the direction of what council laid out, which was to make certain we focus attention on the salary issues confronting us on all city employees with public safety being 50 percent of that,” Saffo said during a Tuesday, May 13 interview. “The city manager has proposed a budget that I think reflects the consensus of council but now the decision is what are we going to do about it?”

As part of the recommended budget, city staff is also proposing a 1 percent property tax increase to help fund the salary increase and other budgetary increases. On an average home, valued at $200,000, a 1-cent increase would result in an extra $1.67 per month in property taxes. 

Saffo said citizens with whom he has spoken are in favor of the increase if it means more funding for the police and fire departments. 

“They don’t have a problem with us raising it as long as it is going to police and fire specifically, and 50 percent of our budget is public safety,” he said.

The public hearing for the city’s recommended 2014-15 budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 20.

Eastwood, Wrightsville Avenue speeds reduced

Wilmington City Council unanimously approved a recommended decrease in the speed limits on the easternmost portions of Wrightsville Avenue and Eastwood Road during its Tuesday, May 6 meeting. The previously 45-mph speed limits on Eastwood Road and Wrightsville Avenue will be reduced to 35 mph. 

The new 35 mph zone on Eastwood Road will begin at the signalized intersection in front of the Lumina Commons shopping center entrance and continue to the Wrightsville Avenue intersection. The 35 mph zone on Wrightsville Avenue will begin at its intersection with Southerland Avenue and continue through the Eastwood Road intersection and across the Heide Trask Drawbridge into Wrightsville Beach. 

In an email Tuesday, May 13, city traffic engineer Don Bennett stated the new speed limits would take effect as soon as the North Carolina Department of Transportation posts new speed limit signs. The city’s approval of the speed limit change was the last step in the process before submitting the municipal certifications to NCDOT. 

email cole@luminanews.com 


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