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ONLY ON 3: City, county look to work together on future storm clean-up

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County has told the City of Wilmington it will not help foot some of the city’s bill to clean up from February’s ice storm. But could the mess be a spark for county-city cooperation?

“It is something that we can easily partner on, we think, and we would be open to doing so,” Wilmington spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

In an e-mail to Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham, New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet says he would like both administrations to work closely and quickly to address debris removal operations in the future.

This all stems from Cheatham asking the county to reimburse part of the city’s debris collection cost. Coudriet says he thinks it would save money if the city and the county worked together.

“I think the next step is the appropriate city and county staff working together number one to see is there a way to merge two existent contracts and create one plan that specifies very clearly roles and responsibilities and how that will be funded,” Coudriet said.

Talbert says she believes conversations have already begun to take place between city and county leaders.

“The conversation is open,” she said. “The idea is being brought forward. I am sure the city is very open to working with the county on something like that, especially if we could get a more cost effective or more effective pick up.”

We tried to reach out to Cheatham for comment, but we were told he would be busy all day.

Coudriet says if the city and county cannot merge their contracts for debris pick-up he hopes they can come up with an operating plan that describes their roles and responsibilities.

The city and county each spent nearly $1.5 million to pick up debris from February’s ice storm. Coudriet told Cheatham he would like both administrations to merge their debris removal contracts by July, which is the beginning of the next fiscal year.

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