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Ballpark discussion continues despite likely tax hike, budget issues

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A drop in property values will most likely mean the City of Wilmington will have to raise property taxes to pay for its next budget. That issue has some residents asking whether the city should even be talking about building a baseball stadium.

“Part of the idea of the ball field is for there to be an economic development aspect to try and better some things for the city,” Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan said.

Regardless of whether the city of wilmington builds a baseball stadium, property taxes will likely go up.

Based on property value estimates the city’s current tax rate of 37 cents would have to jump to 41 cents to keep a revenue neutral rate.

The city says that means a home owner whose property value decreased 14 percent would pay less tax under the new rate. But if your property value only dropped 4 percent, your tax bill will go up more than $40 a year.

That and other budget issues have many taxpayers we talked with wondering whether it makes financial sense to build a baseball stadium.

“Nothing makes financial sense right now,” Wilmington resident Beverly Bobbe said. “Nothing at all.”

Taxpayer Jennifer Chilcote said, “Maybe up front it could initially not seem that beneficial. I think eventually down the road it could bring us a little bit out of debt. It could help us a lot.”

Some Wilmington taxpayers say the stadium is part of a facelift downtown needs no matter who’s paying for it. Others totally disagree.

“All the various views that people have, you know, we run into people on the street, and they talk to us, we get e-mails, we get calls and those kinds of things. All of those kinds of things are going to be considered,” Sheridan said.

Wilmington City Council meets tonight at 6:30. They will vote whether to spend more than $120,000 through June on the ballpark negotiations.

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