This week in local government: Budget season is upon us, plus Board of Ed talks suspensions and Title IX survey
This week, New Hanover County commissioners and City of Wilmington council members will get a look at FY21-22 budget proposals. The New Hanover County Board of Education, meanwhile, will take action on the Title IX sexual harassment survey that's long been in the works.
New Hanover County
On Monday morning, New Hanover County commissioners will get a first look at the budget for their upcoming year. The presentation offers some detail, but mainly provides a broad overview of revenue and spending. (You can find a copy of the presentation at the end of this report.)
- The property tax rate is down about 8 cents per $100, from 55.50 to 47.50 cents
- The county's spending is up about 15 percent, at around $461 million
- That's in large part because of the continued expansion of the county's population, increased development, and, notably, the recent tax revaluation that increased property values — and thus tax revenue — across the county
- Some of the biggest items are supplemental support for public schools -- around $11 million added this year in an attempt to get NHC teachers to the highest rates in the state -- and CFCC, the Sheriff’s Office, and social services
City of Wilmington
On Tuesday evening, Wilmington's city council will hear its own budget presentation. The city's budget is about half the county's — around $230 million — although the city isn't on the hook for social services or supplemental school funding. You can find a copy of the budget presentation here.
Both Wilmington and New Hanover County also received considerable funding through the American Rescue Acts — $26 million and $45 million respectively — but those funds aren't part of the annual budget. Both governments are having separate conversations about how to spend that money. You can find more about that here:
- Wilmington and New Hanover County will receive millions from American Rescue Plan Act
- NHC says Rescue Act funding could increase affordable housing, but details aren't worked out yet
Board of Education
On Tuesday evening the board is expected to take action long-delayed -- or long-debated, depending on who you ask -- survey of sexual harassment and assault in the NHCS. The survey is something of a compromise, not as broad as some had asked for, but importantly it is expected to include questions about sexual harassment and the handling of misconduct.
The board will also look at suspension data. It's not clear exactly what will be presented, but there has been public concern about the racial disparities in the rate of suspensions. The board will also hear an update on ‘Summer Ignite’ - the district’s program aimed at helping students compensate for the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Joint County-City meeting
On Wednesday morning, county commissioners and city council members will continue a series of joint meetings as part of a recently-formed subcommittee on workforce housing and public transit. There’s no formal agenda here, but previous joint meetings have seen discussions centering primarily around future funding
Officials appear to want to move forward with a ¼ cent sales tax increase, which could generate around $12 million annually for improvements and expansion of public transit, which could include Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT. Selling the plan to the public could be complicated — which could be a topic of conversation.
There’s been less in the way of a concrete plan for affordable housing, although the results of a recent study commissioned by the city and county point to a housing bond; the study found, to the surprise of some, that the region was generally in favor of a bond.
While Covid-19 restrictions are being relaxed and you can attend these meetings in person, it's still possible to catch them remotely, as well (maybe you just enjoy a good government meeting in your pajamas). Here's how:
- City of Wilmington agenda briefing, 8:30 a.m. Monday, Wilmington Convention Center - (agenda) Live / Archive
- New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting, 9 a.m. Monday, New Hanover County Courthouse, Rm 301 - (agenda) Video
- City of Wilmington meeting, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wilmington Convention Center - (agenda) Live / Archive
- Board of Education, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (note, the board will go into closed session between 5:50 p.m. and as late as 6:50 p.m.), BOE Center, 1805 S. 13th Street - (agenda) - Video
- Joint meeting, 9 a.m. Wednesday, NHC Government Center, RM 230