Wilmington city council debates lessening tax increase, budget passes first reading
At Tuesday night’s Wilmington City Council Meeting, there was a lengthy discussion on tax increases — and potential ways to offset those increases.
Originally, the city was planning on raising the current property tax rate by 3.7%, which is an adjustment of 1.42 cents per $100 dollars of property value. If you own a house valued at the regional average of around $260,000, your taxes would go up by a bit over $3 a month, or $38 annually.
But city council members also heard other options that could lessen that increase to 1.17 cents by adjusting the appropriated fund balance, adding $500,000.
Council member Luke Waddell was in favor of this option, saying while he doesn’t like tax increases at all, why not make the increase less if we can.
“Because it's lessening that burden. While I'm not a proponent of a tax increase at all, I think it is with discussing what we can do with that 500,000 and decrease it by that much," Waddell said.
Waddell was also uncomfortable with the idea of increasing taxes while keeping in a council stipend increase — and proposed scrapping a planned raise for council members.
Council member Kevin Spears responded by saying there are a lot of people in the community that can afford to “go with the flow” of taxes. If people have problems with the taxes increasing in spite of everything the city wants to accomplish, then those people need to be identified, he said.
“We’re talking about a tax increase that benefits whom? We cannot get to appease people and get them to live better lives, and give people who can afford it, people who can afford a tax increase, a break," Spears said.
Council approved the budget, with the original tax increase — but they could still amend it, lessening that increase, before the end of the month.