WILMINGTON — The finance committee of Wilmington council discussed, among other items, how to and when to prepare its 2017 budget when it has a looming, $2 million tax issue put before voters.
“With our tax issue coming up in November, we won’t know the outcome of that obviously until the first part of November,” said committee chair Mark McKay, asking committee members whether they want to budget based on the 0.5 percent earnings tax proposal passing or failing.
Committee member Randi Milburn asked if the city could prepare two budgets – one based on the tax passing and another based on it failing.
“The nervousness of that is that if the tax initiative doesn’t pass, the results would be catastrophic,” said Marian Miller, clerk of council and Mayor John Stanforth’s executive assistant. “It’s hard to deliver the results of not passing a tax initiative that doesn’t feel like a threat or a bully or a scare tactic.
“A budget is incredibly hard to create when it’s real numbers and real lives,” Miller later said.
Deputy auditor Mary Kay Vance said several departments can already begin their budgeting process because they’re either enterprise funds or receive most of their money from grants.
Miller said Wilmington Auditor David Hollingsworth was currently preparing a document showing the city’s anticipated revenues for 2017, which council has to budget to for that year.
Vance also said the mayor’s office, which traditionally begins the budget process by presenting the various departments’ requests to council, can begin its process whenever it’s ready.
“There’s no reason to not create your budgets,” Vance said. “You still have two months before the end of the year to go in and adjust where your needs are going to be.”
Vance also said that the city would need a budget in place if the tax initiative fails.
“Where you do you know you’re going to cut if you don’t have a budget to start with?” Vance said.
The city could also pass a temporary budget, getting it through part of 2017, until it could finalize a year-long budget, if needed, according to Vance.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.