2023 city budget discussed at council meeting

WILMINGTON — Some changes were made to the 2023 city budget and police addressed citizen concerns at Thursday night’s Wilmington City Council meeting.

2023 Budget

The Wilmington City Council meeting passed the first reading of the 2023 budget.

The 2023 budget is estimated to be $55.3 million. The council held a separate special meeting before the regular meeting to discuss the budget.

At the special meeting, Mayor John Stanforth talked about a change involving the Retain Hotel Lodging Tax.

“There have been some changes, we added some money for the Murphy Theatre out of the Hotel Retain Lodging (Tax). I’m going out on a percentage basis which then relates for a monetary number. We’re going to give them about 70% of the Hotel Lodging Tax,” said Stanforth in the special meeting.

Stanforth told the News Journal that 70% would be coming from leftover money of the projected amount coming in. According to the budget, the Hotel Lodging Tax transfer 2023 is $125,000. The Retained Hotel Lodging Tax transfer is $122,500.

He added that 15% would go to the History Center with the last 15% going to whatever project they come up with.

Council member Matt Purkey, during the special meeting, said he believes if this is to be done it should be codified. He felt this should be done because he thought this was a drastic change to how the Lodging Tax was handled.

Council member Jonathan McKay said there was going to be a committee meeting with the members in charge of distributing the money to discuss the changes in the procedure before the end of the year.

“I want to make it clear … we were going to take it to the committee. Everybody agreed that this should be taken to a committee before anything else happens,” said McKay.

The next reading is scheduled for the Dec. 1 meeting.


Concerned citizens asked about a few recent events in the city, including the death of a local who died due to injuries suffered from being hit by a city taxi early in the summer.

Police Chief Ron Fithen told the News Journal the whole thing was resolved. Fithen advised that the parking break on the taxi failed before the vehicle struck the victim.

According to Fithen, the victim didn’t want to go to the hospital. Later, the person complained about pain and was taken to be treated before passing away.

Fithen advised the city was aware of the incident and that the police have body cam footage to back this up.

Later, Greg Pitzer asked the council if there were any updates involving the investigation of the death of his daughter, Casey, in 2013. Fithen told the News Journal that the police department is following the recommendation of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“We’ve asked the person of interest to take another polygraph test,” said Fithen, adding the person’s attorney had been contacted.