WILMINGTON — Feeling that they’ve earned the citizens’ trust, City of Wilmington officials hope to make the current 0.5 percent income tax levy a permanent one.
Passed in 2016 as a temporary tax levy, Mayor John Stanforth believes the time has come to make it permanent.
“I had it as a temporary to show the citizens we could husband their money and use it wisely,” said Stanforth, adding he believes the city has kept its original promises.
Those promises were: maintaining safety services; paving the streets, enforcing city codes; and maintaining carry-over, “which really affects our bond rating,” he added.
Stanforth noted that since they’ve increased code enforcement, citizens have been keeping their yards cleaner. According to statistics from the city, they’ve given 1,017 citations for weed and grass violations and 542 for litter violations between 2016 and 2019.
Stanforth gave credit to the city’s code enforcement officer, Terry Kerr, for his work.
Another reason the city wants to make the tax permanent, Stanforth said, is that he believes the citizens have gotten used to services the tax has allowed the city to do.
“I can’t imagine that the citizens would want less of what we’re doing now,” said Stanforth.
City Administrator Marian Miller advises that, with this tax, Wilmington has been able to get two new ambulances as well as two police cruisers, and has hired five new firefighters this year.
Stanforth added they’ve also been able to keep up the rotations and updates of police patrol cruisers.
Another benefit of the tax, he said, is that the city has been able to apply for project grants.
“Part of the criteria for grants is, ‘Do you have any skin in the game? Can you put some money up?’ When you’re able to put matching money in, that moves you up the food chain,” said Stanforth.
Since announcing they wanted to keep the levy permanent, Stanforth, Miller and Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker say they have had nothing but a positive reaction to it.
“In all honesty, I have not had a single person say, ‘You’ve wasted money and I’m not for it,’” said Stanforth.
But if there are any concerns, the mayor welcomes any citizen to call his office, set up a time to talk, and chat about it.
“We can show them what we have done with the money,” he said. “There’s nothing hidden. There’s no stack of money in the corner closet.”
Shidaker added, “This is for Wilmington’s future — and it will not raise your taxes.”
“The proof is also in the future,” said Miller. “If you can’t see what we’ve done, look at what we’re going to do.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.