Wilmington City Council Faces Ire on Taxes

Article published Jun 4, 2003 in the Wilmington Star News

City Council Faces Ire on Taxes

Proposed pay raises, purchase of properties draw criticism

The Wilmington City Council got an earful Tuesday night from a handful of residents, urging the council to cut spending.

Dozens of people, some of them members of a newly formed group called Taxpayers of Wilmington, turned out for a rally on the steps of City Hall an hour before the council meeting began. One issue is a proposal before the council to spend $3.2 million from a surplus in the city’s fund balance to buy properties, primarily downtown.

City Manager Sterling Cheatham has suggested the council consider buying some properties to stimulate economic development downtown. The properties would be marketed to private investors, developed and sold or retained for public uses such as green space and parks.

Residents got to express their opinions about the issue during a public hearing on the budget Tuesday night.

Dick Carter, a frequent critic of local government policies, chastised the council for proposing to give itself a raise, for hiring more employees, and raising fees.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you are pushing the envelope,” Mr. Carter said, adding he plans to speak out in opposition to the council’s proposals.

The proposed budget doesn’t include a tax increase. City taxes would remain at 47 cents per $100 worth of property.

But the city manager has recommended the council raise its salary. The mayor’s salary would increase from $12,500 to $13,000 a year plus a $4,200 a year in travel. The council members’ salaries would increase from $9,500 to $9,880 a year plus $4,200 in travel.

The total budget next fiscal year, including enterprise funds, would be about $115 million, compared to $110 million in the existing budget.

Betsy Talley, who lives on Pine Grove Drive, said that now is not the time to go on a spending spree to buy property when the economy is unstable. “My friends, you are out of control. It’s too easy to spend other people’s money,” Mrs. Talley said. She challenged the council to cut fat from the budget. She also said the council shouldn’t expand into areas that should be left to other people, such as private developers.

Several other people expressed opposition to the council getting involved in developing property.

Copyright the Wilmington Star News

Bettie Fennell: 343-2377


CSE Protest Photos



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