Wilmington City Council adopted the $251 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2023, which goes into effect July 1. The city’s strategic plan guided the development of the budget, which prioritizes affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, and providing high quality core services.
Here are the key takeaways:
Prioritizing Affordable Housing:
Council is investing $2.15 million in affordable housing, which will support and expand affordable housing options, including the Homeownership Opportunity Program and Rental Rehabilitation Incentive Loan Program, as well as gap financing to develop new affordable housing options. This represents an increase of $561,071 in new funding for affordable housing.
Guaranteeing High Quality Core Services:
The budget provides citywide salary adjustments to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce to deliver core city services like street repaving, recycling and trash, parks and recreation, fire protection and police services, and support functions. It also includes $3.7 million for service improvements.
Emphasizing Transportation and Infrastructure:
Council continues to support and fund infrastructure needs to support our growing city. The FY23 budget allocates $6 million to further substantiate the street rehabilitation program with more significant efforts on proactive and preventative practices, nearly $1 million for sidewalk rehabilitation, and additional funding to pavement markings and dirt street paving. It also includes added staff to help accelerate completion of transportation projects.
Securing Fund Balance:
City Council prioritizes preparedness, which is especially important as a coastal community. The city maintains a healthy fund balance (think savings account), which it relies upon during emergencies like hurricanes. This budget includes a fund balance up to 30 percent of the general fund, which allows the city to continue serving no matter the circumstances. This approach to financial management underscores why the city consistently receives top credit ratings.
Investing In Community Building:
Even though social services fall beyond the scope of city government, we have a shared responsibility to invest in the valuable work of local non-profits, faith-based organizations, and other community building programs in support of the community’s well-being that’s why the budget includes $1.25 million for public service agencies, civic partners, and
economic development agencies.
Ensuring Public Safety:
The budget carefully and thoughtfully balances ensuring a safe and inclusive city with community-based approaches to public safety. Public safety makes up the largest percent of the general fund expenditures, which includes funding for emergency services like fire and police. The FY23 budget includes 5 new officers to patrol downtown, 2 gun crime investigators to serve on the Gun Crimes Task Force, nearly $1 million to open and operate a new fire station, hire 15 firefighters, and purchase life-saving gear, and much more.
How This Impacts Property Tax Bills:
The new tax rate of 0.3950 is slightly above revenue neutral, meaning the average homeowner will see an increase of $38 on their property tax bill.