Wilmington City Council Approves FY24 Budget

At its June 20 meeting, Wilmington City Council voted to adopt the FY24 city budget. The $351 million balanced budget is guided by the city’s strategic priorities, which include increasing affordable housing opportunities, modernizing the city’s infrastructure, and actively preparing for the city’s future needs and growing demands on city services. The tax rate under the new budget remains unchanged.

Mayor Bill Saffo said, “I want to commend our city staff and this Council for a very responsible budget that invests in immediate priorities and critical long-term needs without a tax increase. These investments in affordable housing, public safety, roads and infrastructure, and high-quality public services and amenities will continue to improve Wilmington’s quality of life for residents and its attractiveness as a place to grow a business and create good jobs.”

“This budget also provides a creative and cost-effective solution to growing demands on downtown parking and city operations by funding the purchase of a 12.5-acre downtown campus for public use. This will add over 1000 parking spaces near our very successful Riverfront Park and Live Oak Bank Pavilion, consolidate multiple city operations into one building, and save millions of dollars by selling off aging city facilities. Most importantly, it does this without raising taxes and still keeping a very large fund balance so we’re fully prepared for emergencies like hurricanes,” said Saffo.

Highlights of the FY24 budget include:

  • $2.2 million to continue supporting and growing affordable housing programs, including the Homeownership Opportunity Program, a new program under the Healthy Homes umbrella, and gap financing for eligible developments that provide affordable housing opportunities.
  • $16.2 million for street and sidewalk preservation and maintenance projects. This includes $8 million allocated to the Street Rehabilitation program, which represents a 33% increase ($2 million) in funding to support an additional 8-10 lane miles of rehabilitated pavement next year.
  • Just over $2 million is allocated to fund the city’s continued commitment to local non-profits, human service agencies, civic partnerships, public cultural events, and economic development partnerships.
  • The budget reflects the City of Wilmington’s commitment to financial preparedness by maintaining a large fund balance (similar to a savings account) of at least 25 percent of the city’s general fund. This allows the city to respond quickly and effectively to disaster recovery needs following storm events while also contributing to the city’s top credit ratings.
  • The FY24 budget allocates funding to purchase a 12.5-acre campus in northern downtown, which includes a 1000+ parking deck to add parking capacity by Riverfront Park and Live Oak Bank Pavilion, and a large office building which can be repurposed to consolidate many city operations under one roof. Having received state approval on June 6, the city will work to conclude its due diligence and potentially close on the property in mid-July. City Council views the campus acquisition as a creative and cost-effective solution to the city’s future space needs.
  • The property tax rate for the FY24 budget remains unchanged from the previous year at 39.5 cents per $100 valuation. Some modest fee increases are included to offset increased expenses, including a $2 increase in greens fees for the municipal golf course, a 1% increase for stormwater service, and an average increase of $2.18 on the rate for residential recycling and trash service.

The city’s budget development process began in November 2022 with the first of four daylong work sessions to review key progress reports and financial information, and to identify City Council priorities for the upcoming year. These culminated in the City Manager’s recommended budget and a May 16 public hearing. City Council votes twice when adopting budgets, with the first vote occurring at its June 6 meeting and the second and final vote on June 20. The new budget is set to become effective on July 1, the first day of the city’s fiscal year.

The FY24 city budget is available online at www.wilmingtonnc.gov/budget.

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