courthouse-clocktowerHere in New Hanover County, the community, elected officials and county staff cooperate to balance a high quality of life with a progressive business and economic climate.

At less than 200 square miles, New Hanover County is the second smallest – geographically – of the 100 North Carolina counties; however, it is home to more than 225,702 people.

New Hanover County is not just a great place in which to live or visit. New Hanover County is also a great place to do business. Tourism, film production, the service and retail sectors are the engines that power our economy.

Our Mission: New Hanover County is committed to providing equitable opportunities and exceptional public services through good governance to ensure a safe, healthy, secure and thriving community for all.

The government of New Hanover County is committed to ensuring that you are safe, healthy and secure; that is our promise to you.

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet serves as chief administrator of county government and maintains responsibility for administering all departments under the general control of the five-member Board of Commissioners.

The county manager’s work includes the development of the county’s annual budget. The budget is the policy document, financial plan, and operations guide and communications device of county government. It reflects the county’s response to the needs of the community and residents’ requests for services. New Hanover County’s government is operating on a $458 million multi-fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2022, serving more than 225,000 residents.

In addition, the manager and his executive leadership team are responsible for aligning the operations of the county to the adopted strategic plan and advancing the county’s mission and vision through five key focus areas: superior education and workforce, superior public health and safety, intelligent growth and economic development, strong financial performance, and effective county management.

Mr. Coudriet has served as the county manager since July 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as assistant county manager for New Hanover County for four years and as county manager in Franklin and Washington counties, N.C. He has more than twenty-five years of public administration experience, with fifteen years as a county manager or assistant county manager in North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from East Carolina University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Mr. Coudriet currently serves in several leadership positions with the National Association of Counties (NACo), including vice-chair of the Public Health and Healthy Communities Subcommittee and vice-chair of the Resilient Counties Advisory Board. He is also a member of NACo’s Information Technology Standing Committee and the International Economic Development Committee. Recently, Mr. Coudriet received a Presidential Recognition Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) for his contribution as a member of the opioid settlement working group, also known as the 555 committee, which helped NCACC and the North Carolina Department of Justice to maximize North Carolina’s share of a $26 billion national settlement fund to ensure resources reach communities as quickly, effectively, and directly as possible.

He is a native of eastern North Carolina. Chris and his wife, Leigh, and two children Montgomery and Silas, reside in Wilmington.

New Hanover County’s work is aligned with six shared values: Professionalism, Equity, Integrity, Innovation, Stewardship, and Accountability. The county’s employees consistently exemplify these values and go above and beyond in carrying out the mission to serve the county’s citizens.

Learn more about the county’s mission, vision, and strategy here.

In 2014, New Hanover County commissioned an economic development strategy entitled the Pathways To Prosperity Report by Jay Garner and Associates, which provided a road map to help New Hanover County strengthen the local business climate and assist in increasing the county’s economic competitiveness. Many of the recommendations outlined in the report have been implemented or are underway and helped to inform the county’s 2018 Strategic Plan. In 2021, the Board of Commissioners authorized an update to the report, given the many changes that have occurred since the initial report was developed. The updated Economic Mobility Report by Greenfield, completed in 2022, provides an overview of progress that has been made, current demographics and workforce data, important county assets, key findings, and an overview of the primary and emerging target sectors in New Hanover County.

Learn more and view the reports here »

Manager's Message

Lower taxes, expanded service – a budget committed to helping New Hanover County move forward

Posted June 15, 2022 at 8:55 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet

A little more, with a little less.

It sounds like an impossible task. But that was the challenge and opportunity presented to New Hanover County staff when talking with the Board of Commissioners about their goals for Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget.

Lowering taxes was a priority for all five Commissioners. Each of them expressed how important it was to keep money in the hands of our residents. By that same token, their words emphasized that it was equally crucial to continue and expand the services our county provides, while funding new initiatives that the Board has prioritized over the past several months.

Since those initial directives, our budget office has worked tirelessly to bring those two goals into a cohesive place. They listened to Commissioner feedback and discussed, at-length, the budget with every department throughout our organization, to make sure all the priorities of the next year would be met.

After all the hard work, I am proud to see each of those goals has been achieved.

On Monday, June 6, the Board of Commissioners approved a $508 million balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year that lowers taxes, continues and enhances services, and provides the expansion of programs and priorities to enhance and improve life in New Hanover County.

Effective July 1, the tax rate will take a two-cent decrease, going from 47.5 cents to 45.5 cents per $100 in value. That places New Hanover County eighth out of 100 North Carolina counties when it comes to the lowest tax rate in our state.

Even with that decrease in the tax rate, the Board’s longstanding commitment to meeting the educational needs of our county still remains, as $120 million of the $421 million General Fund is designated for New Hanover County Schools, which is 28.5 percent of the General Fund. The district’s Average Daily Membership expenditure ($3,434/student) and teacher supplement ($9,000/teacher) remain among the best in the state. Additionally, the Board approved $23.9 million for Cape Fear Community College’s operating expenses and debt service. Combined, that means 34 percent of the General Fund is solely dedicated towards public education.

While education remains a high priority, a focus on community building, expansion of wraparound services and supporting our citizens during these uncertain times has become more important than ever.

Through a mix of escrow funds from the sale of the hospital, American Rescue Plan Act dollars and our fund balance, we are strengthening programs like Too Good for Violence and Elements, adding community resource coordinators to seven schools that will connect students and families with the services they need, and looking forward to seeing the work Port City United will do in our community to help individuals find a better path forward. Also, our partnership with the Northside Food Co-Op will bring a full-service grocery store to the Northside, a food desert for many years.

Other pieces to helping our community include the doubling of county-funded pre-K classrooms, approximately $1.2 million in funding for 37 nonprofit agencies to continue or expand their reach and nearly $1 million in direct economic development efforts to encourage investment in the private sector, support small business and further economic progress.

Each of those programs are crucial to helping our citizens with everything from mental health to jobs to food, but we know one of the biggest difficulties facing our community right now is a lack of affordable housing.

To that end, investments in our Workforce Housing Service Program will create a dedicated staff solely focused on the ensuring units are available and future projects help meet the needs of our ever-growing community and provide $3 million to directly increase and improve our community’s affordable housing stock as well as increase access to affordable housing. We all know that New Hanover County is an amazing place to live, but we must make sure it is an affordable place to call home for everyone.

Additionally, the budget provides more the $28 million in capital expenses for a host of new and important projects to meet the needs and demands of our community. Some of these include the design of a Northchase Library, the creation of new multi-use trails for better connectivity, a variety of park enhancements and design for a new fire station in Castle Hayne, just to name a few.

So, what does all this mean?

Like I noted before, a little more, with a little less.

You, the citizens, will have less taxes to pay, but you will still receive the same stellar services and amenities you have come to expect living here in New Hanover County. And, you will also see an expansion of new services that will help strengthen our community by providing resources that address a wide array of needs in our county. All of this is made possible by a robust and growing tax base, streamlined practices that help reduce costs and a focus on providing the best service in ways that minimize taxes and fees.

That was the task set before us when we started building this budget, and I am so grateful for the work behind the scenes to bring it to fruition. Our goal has been and continues to be being the model of good governance. We are proud to do just that and look forward to serving you in the upcoming fiscal year.

A Public Service Profile for Mental Health

Posted May 23, 2022 at 9:06 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet Established in 1949, May is observed as Mental Health Awareness Month across the United States. Here in New Hanover County, mental health continues to be … Read More »

Economic Mobility – Where do we go from here?

Posted April 19, 2022 at 8:54 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet In 2014, New Hanover County commissioned an economic development strategy, commonly referred to as the Garner Report. The goal of this document was simple – … Read More »

A Public Service Profile for Diversity & Equity

Posted March 15, 2022 at 11:17 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet In June 2020, New Hanover County established the Office of Diversity & Equity. The mission of this new office was clear – promote an inclusive … Read More »

Port City United for Change

Posted February 18, 2022 at 8:45 am

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet I’ll believe it when I see it. They are words that have truly stuck with me and others on our staff here at New Hanover County for many months. Like … Read More »