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Wilmington City Council discusses $26 million in Rescue Plan funding, pay bumps for some (or all) employees

Vince Winkel
Wilmington City Hall.

At its Monday agenda briefing, Wilmington City Council heard an update on how $26 million dollars in American Rescue funds will be spent.

Based on staff recommendations, City Finance Director Jennifer Maready presented three areas for funding-- $8.5 million for economic development, $4.7 million for infrastructure, and $13 million for recovery. These categories are consistent with federal policy, but amounts in each category may change after final guidance from the US Treasury.

“So we will be expecting some updates over the next weeks based on the comments they received," Maready said.

Council member Kevin Spears expressed his concern about how bonuses from the recovery fund will be distributed to city employees.

As presented, the policy would not provide bonuses for city employees who worked remotely during the pandemic. Spears questioned that approach.

“So I don’t I don’t think we should want to readily exclude people, just because we don’t see the perceived threat because they were working remote," Spears said.

Spears asked staff how New Hanover County had rolled out its bonuses, making the point that all county employees received pay bumps, regardless of whether they worked remotely or not.

"We can't let the County outdo us," Spears said — prompting Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes to quip, "raise taxes by five cents ... and you've got a lot of money floating around," a reference to the county's controversial decision to raise tax-rates above revenue neutral, despite an influx of federal funding and increased property tax revenue due to a recent revaluation.

City staff plans to update the council after federal guidelines are finalized.

Ashley Brown is from from Houston, TX. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Sam Houston State University and an MA in Professional Communication and Digital Media from Texas Southern University. Her love of news, radio, and entertainment led her to the field of journalism. As a creative person, she loves the journalistic challenge of putting stories together. And as a future news reporter, she hopes to tell stories that reach and affect people. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and trying out new brunch places to eat.