City has ‘revenue problem’

William Jones, left, is sworn in by Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley, right, as the newest member of the Wilmington Fire Department.

WILMINGTON — City auditor David Hollingsworth told Wilmington City Council Thursday night that Wilmington needs more revenue.

“I think we have a revenue problem,” Hollingsworth said during the council meeting.

Hollingsworth cited several sources of revenue that have gone away, including Inheritance Tax revenue which stopped when the state repealed the tax.

Hollingsworth said the City of Wilmington collected $4.7 million in 2006. In 2008, the number went up to $6 million due to activity at the Wilmington Air Park. By 2009, Hollingsworth said the city was pulling in about $7 million. After the financial crisis that year, revenue dropped down to $4.1 million in 2010.

“We’ve been relatively flat since then,” Hollingsworth said. “I think we’ve got to talk about the revenue side.”

Hollingsworth highlighted a decision made by council earlier this year to appropriate $500,000 for street paving out of the General Fund, saying that at the end of the year, if the city spends the full $500,000 and all other budgeted expenses, the total cash carryover from last year will sit at a total of about 10 or 15 percent, which is roughly $1 million.

To compare, Hollingsworth said in 2009 and 2010, the city had a $4.6 million carryover.

Paul Hunter, who often provides input at council meetings, said he’s concerned about the carryover.

“Those big carryovers saved us,” he said, referencing previous years with larger carryovers. “What’s going to happen the next time a bridge goes down, or a culvert? … We’d be in emergency status.”

Hollingsworth urged council to consider putting a plan together to address the situation.

In other business:

• Council heard from Jeff Walls, coordinator of the Clinton County Solid Waste Management District, about the Clinton County Solid Waste Management Plan. Walls said the plan sets the course for the next 15 years, detailing financial and managerial solvency measures.

Walls said the district offers a variety of programs, including business recycling, tire amnesty events and grant programs.

He said he district has surpassed all recycling goals set by the state.

“The programs are working,” he said.

• A public hearing was held on the re-zoning request of an LT Land Development property on Rombach Avenue from County Industrial to Roadside Business zone. Bill Peelle, who represents LT Land Development, said the property, commonly known as the Williams Farm Subdivision, will be used for “various uses” such as restaurants and hotels. He said nothing is official at this point, but “it’s anticipated they will be coming in in the next few years.”

• A public hearing was held on the re-zoning request from Stephanie Butler to re-zone 691 Piedmont St. from Single-Family Residential to Neighborhood Business.

The request went before the Wilmington Planning Commission, but was denied on the grounds that the city does not usually re-zone just one residential property to business — otherwise known as “spot zoning” — due to the precedent it sets.

Although the request was denied, Butler was still able to have the issue put before council.

A first reading was held, and all council members voted “no.”

• William D. Jones was sworn in as the newest Wilmington Fire Department firefighter.

• Council passed a first reading on an ordinance approving the solid waste management plan.

Reach David Wright at 937-556-5770, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.