Wilmington City Council discusses budget

Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington City Council is trying to figure out a way to make up for a nearly $6 million budget deficit.

According to city officials Wilmington is facing a significant budget shortfall because of declining sales tax and other revenues.

Council members are discussing options like cutting operational services or cutting pay and employee benefits.

Since half the budget goes towards paying police and fire personnel, city officials say those services could soon see layoffs.  Another possibility is closing a fire station or reducing the police department's special units.

"Patrol is the most important bread and butter issue," said Wilmington City spokesperson Malissa Talbert.  "We have to keep police officers in patrol in the car and on the streets. That is why we need to look at some other areas if at all possible such as some special teams, not the regular patrol officers."

Mayor Bill Saffo said he is still committed to not raising taxes, but warns that tough decision will have to be made.

"I want the citizens of our community to know that just like everybody else in this country we're having to make sacrifices on the government side and I want our community to know," said Saffo.  "You know that these are not easy cuts for us to make but we're going to have to make them."

The mayor pointed out there's no "fat" in this budget, meaning reductions will force officials to trim critical public services

No final decisions have been made about any of the possible reductions.  City staff will prepare a recommended budget to be presented during the city council meeting, May 5.

An adopted budget will be in place by June 30.

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