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This week in government: New Hanover Boards of Education and Commissioners, joint city-county meeting

This week, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will move forward with the county's budget and the Board of Education meeting looks to be a flashpoint in the debate over 'critical race theory' — the term that conservative groups have been using to decry the school district's weighted focus on diversity and equity. Plus, Wilmington and county leaders will meet to hash out details on new attempts to tackle affordable housing and public transportation.

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners

New Hanover County has been touting the FY2021-2022 budget as a tax cut, as Chair Julia Olson-Boseman wrote in a recent release, "the proposed tax rate in this budget is 8 cents less than our current tax rate (from 55.5 cents to 47.5 cents) – but we will be bringing in more revenue under this lower tax rate than before, because of the increased property values through our revaluation (property values reflect the market and are up around 33% on average across the county)." It's worth noting that, though the county has avoided explicitly saying it, the increase in property values means the average resident will be paying more in property taxes, despite the decrease in the ad valorem tax rate.

The lion's share of the effective tax increase will be used to increase local supplements for teacher salaries, from around $4,183 a year to an average of $9,000 annually, near the highest in the state.

Joint meeting: City of Wilmington and New Hanover County

In a series of ad-hoc meetings, members of the city council and county commission have been working on plans to address both affordable housing and public transportation; this week's joint meeting could see more concrete details and forward motion on both fronts.

Related: Wilmington and New Hanover officials want to spend $50 million on affordable housing, but don't quite know how yet

Officials have discussed both a 1/4 cent sales tax to help generate additional funding for WAVE and a $50 million bond to fund a range of initiatives dealing with housing, both will likely be debated this week.

Board of Education

The New Hanover County Schools recently engaged Sophic Solutions, a consulting firm, to evaluate the district's diversity and equity. Conservative groups, including the county GOP party, have criticized the move, calling it 'indoctrination' and objecting to the teaching of what they call 'critical race theory' (the district denies that this theory is being taught).

You can find a deep dive into the issue on the most recent CoastLine: Critical Race Theory - what is it and why is it so controversial?

More info

You find agendas and watch the meetings live using the links below:

  • New Hanover County Board of CommissionersagendaWatch live, Monday, June 7, 4 p.m.
  • Joint meeting: City of Wilmington and New Hanover County Board of Commissioners — Watch live Tuesday, June 8, 9 a.m.
  • New Hanover County Board of Education agenda -- Watch live(via YouTube), Tuesday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.
Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.