Wilmington council to discuss budget Thursday

Work session will help determine if a tax goes on ballot

By Nathan Kraatz - nkraatz@civitasmedia.com

WILMINGTON — A public work session of Wilmington council to discuss what to do about next year’s budget is tentatively scheduled Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.

Wilmington council finance committee members Kelsey Swindler and Mark McKay, its chair, agreed Wednesday to have all of council there instead of a special committee meeting, as was first proposed. Committee member Randi Milburn was absent.

“We want to have enough time to delve into this,” Mark McKay said. “It’s a pretty important topic, probably the most important facing the city right now.”

Mark McKay asked Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth and his administration to provide a “big picture” review of what cutting the $1.3 million budget shortfall might look like. Mark McKay also asked former mayor and current President of Council Randy Riley to show how the city got to its current point.

“My goal was to come out of it with some direction as to whether we would have a revenue feature on the fall ballot,” Mark McKay said.

As a work session, no action could be taken at the meeting, only discussion, according to Riley.

“We don’t want anybody to think that we’re doing anything behind closed doors,” Riley said, encouraging Mark McKay to present a summary of the meeting at the next regular council meeting.

Last year, council passed a budget for the current fiscal year that projected spending $1.3 million more than it would raise in revenues.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Wilmington Auditor David Hollingsworth said the general fund’s balance had fallen from $2.9 million in May 2015 to $2.5 million this May.

To date, the committee has brought up three different options to close that gap.

One is an earnings tax, possibly 0.5 percent, in addition to the city’s current 1 percent earnings tax. A 0.5 percent earnings tax would generate about $2 million, which would close the gap and provide additional funds for other projects.

In April, the committee received documents from Clinton County Auditor Terry Habermehl’s office that showed what a 1-mill and 2-mill property tax levy would generate – $218,000 and $436,000, respectively.

Either tax would have to be submitted to the Clinton County Board of Elections by August 10 to be voted on by residents, according to the Secretary of State’s election calendar.

The third option is to cut $1.3 million from the budget, which represents about 15 percent of the general fund.

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.

Work session will help determine if a tax goes on ballot

By Nathan Kraatz