Monday’s meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners was filled with important items for consideration including a development agreement that will create a new public library and Cape Fear Museum in Downtown Wilmington and a presentation from staff on the recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24. All that and much more are in the highlights below.
Celebrating our amazing team
The second Commissioner meeting of the month always starts with a moment to recognize employees who are retiring or have reached 5-year incremental milestones in their careers. Monday’s was no different as six employees, including one retiree, were honored for their 104 combined years of public service. Additionally, four new employees were welcomed to the New Hanover County team.
Congrats to our longtime staff members on your continued service and welcome aboard to our new team members.
New Project Grace development plan moving forward
Following a presentation from staff and a public hearing, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved entering into a development agreement with Cape Fear Development, for the redevelopment of the Wilmington city block bounded by Chestnut, Grace, Second and North Third streets. Known as Project Grace, the public-private partnership will create a purpose-built cultural hub on the block featuring a new, state-of-the-art Downtown Public Library and Cape Fear Museum, and will incorporate mixed-use private development that will enhance the downtown area.
The agreement outlines a new financing model, with the county responsible for issuing debt for the cost of construction (expected to be $60.5 million or less). Staff shared with Commissioners the work that Cape Fear Development has done over the past five months at no cost to the county, including the review of existing architectural and construction plans, researching the viability of renovating instead of building new and working to develop cost-saving opportunities based on the facility’s needs.
With the Commissioners approval, the project will be rebid to ensure a complete financial picture with construction costs, and the final financial structure will be presented to Commissioners in July.
Learn more about what is new with the project and view the agreement at NHCgov.com/Project-Grace.
Commissioners review recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24
County Manager Chris Coudriet presented Commissioners with a recommended $590.8 million budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24. A public hearing on the recommended budget will be held at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 4, and a vote to adopt the finalized budget will be taken in June.
The proposed budget maintains the county-wide tax rate at 45.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. It also provides $129.1 million in funding to public education and commits money to capital projects like the Northchase library, numerous park improvements, two new fire stations (Gordon Road and Castle Hayne) and more. The Commissioners will also provide the second $3 million installment as part of the 5-year, $15 million Workforce Housing Services Program to retain and increase the stock of residential units available.
For more information on the proposed budget and the county’s priorities, click here.
That’s not all …
Commissioners also approved a proclamation recognizing Older Americans Month. Adults 55 and older make up approximately 25 percent of New Hanover County’s total population and that number is expected to grow in the coming years. Thanks to the work of the Senior Resource Center, New Hanover County remains committed to supporting older adults in the community with services to meet the physical, emotional and mental needs they face. Check out the proclamation by clicking here. You can learn more about the work of the Senior Resource Center by visiting SRC.NHCgov.com.
Commissioners also approved new members to the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority and New Hanover County Commission for Women. These are just two of the numerous boards and committees that provide valuable guidance on important decisions throughout the county. To learn more about these committees and check available openings, click here.
You can view the May 15 meeting here and below. The next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners is set for 4 p.m. on June 5.
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners holds its regularly scheduled meetings on the first and third Monday of each month, unless otherwise noted. These meetings take place at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse (24 North 3rd Street, Room 301). A schedule of the 2023 meetings can be found here.
All meetings are broadcast live on NHCTV.com, New Hanover County's YouTube channel and Spectrum channel 13. For meeting agendas, minutes and exhibits, visit Commissioners.NHCgov.com.