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

County budget invests in important services, board priorities, and community needs

Posted June 21, 2021 at 12:16 pm
June 21, 2021

By County Manager, Chris Coudriet

The Board of Commissioners has been clear about what its priorities are for public education and teacher pay, the need for enhanced public safety, and new economic development and workforce initiatives. The county also has prior obligations and general government that must be funded, and we have to ensure sustainability and growth in the coming years.

All of those factors are what went into creating New Hanover County’s $458 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. And that is what predicated the need for a tax rate of 47.5 cents per $100 in value.

This rate is eight cents lower than our current rate and five cents higher than revenue neutral. The revenue neutral rate is 42.5 cents after our 2021 reappraisal was conducted that showed property values about 33 percent higher than they were four years ago.

It’s important for our residents and business to understand that the county’s adopted tax rate is higher than revenue neutral because we can’t accomplish what we need to, what the community has said it wants to do, and what the board has prioritized, with a status-quo budget or revenue neutral rate. So the rate of 47.5 cents (4.46 cents of which is for debt service and 43.04 cents is for the general fund) is expected to remain steady over the next four years, and will ensure that we can sustain our work in the community and grow according to revenue and responsibility.

If we were to dip into our fund balance or revenue stabilization fund this year to cover a portion of expenditures in the budget, we would have to do that for the next four years as well – and it would deplete those incredibly important funds that we must have for emergencies. As a county that prides itself on good governance and fiscal responsibility, that would be counter to our policies and practices and not something I could recommend as county manager.

New Hanover County actually has the lowest tax rate among the 20 most populated counties in North Carolina and falls in the middle tier with regard to the average tax bill. Orange, Forsyth, Union, and Buncombe counties – to name a few – just completed their property reappraisal in 2021 like we did, and their approved or proposed tax rates for FY21-22 are 81.87, 68.8, 58.8, and 48.8 cents per $100, respectively.

And while our tax rate is lower than many of our peer counties, we will be doing even more for our community this coming year and increasing our strategic commitments in the community. With a $458 million budget, it would be hard to outline everything that is included, but I do want to highlight a few noteworthy investments…

Education funding makes up around 38 percent of the approved budget, and we are doing even more than just paying debt service and increasing our per pupil spending. You’ve likely heard about the increase to teacher supplements that will make New Hanover County the highest in the state (if not, you can read about it in Chair Olson-Boseman’s editorial here). This will do more than just pay teachers closer to what they deserve – the goal is to attract more qualified and diverse teachers to our area and that will benefit our students well into the future.

The county will also be implementing several innovative programs for teachers to grow professionally and to better their skills through training, including funding for five teachers at several hard to staff schools to receive National Board Certification. This will include their participation and release day costs and will result in a 13 percent pay increase from state.

Through the budget and American Rescue Plan funding, the county will be creating Workforce Rental Housing Assistance pilot project to provide residents who qualify under workforce housing guidelines – 60 to 120 percent of area median income – with rental assistance.

A Parks Resource Officer team will be added to the county, in partnership with our Sheriff’s Office and Parks and Gardens Department, for deputies to be established in our high-traffic parks, get to know patrons, be present for large sporting events, and create a constant presence for increased safety and security. Public safety overall makes up about 21 percent of the approved budget.

We will be moving forward with the construction of Hanover Pines Nature Park (formerly known as Battle Park), as well as several trails to create better connectivity in the county and enhance our quality of life.

New Hanover County will also undertake the strategic update of the 2014 Garner Economic Study to provide an understanding of how the effects of COVID-19 have impacted the local economic development landscape and to provide specific strategies and recommendations to advance the goals of the county’s Strategic Plan, which include leveraging public infrastructure investment to increase the tax base, increasing the diversity and number of high wage jobs in manufacturing, knowledge sector and skilled trades, and supporting the private sector’s need for talent to fill high wage jobs in new or expanding businesses.

We are further increasing investments in our economic development partners, including a three-year pilot with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce to recruit, retain, and expand small businesses. This focus on small business growth will also further enhance Wilmington Business Development’s work that is already underway, and we will be investing even more toward the county’s Blue Clay Road property and preparing it to be a new industrial park in the northern part of the county.

This budget invests more than $2 million in nonprofit and economic development organizations in our area, who are doing incredible work. It invests in additional health and human services resources and services, fair pay and benefits for the county’s dedicated employees, and infrastructure and technology needs in the county so we can best serve our residents.

I could keep going about all that this budget funds, and the important – and much needed – work it will accomplish; but suffice it to say, it will help every single person in our community and has something for everyone in it. It’s not just funding the status-quo. It makes real and strategic investments that are going to make a difference this coming year and in the years to come.

I want to thank our Board of Commissioners for their leadership and clear, strategic priorities that helped to shape and determine the initiatives in the adopted budget.

And when you have some time, I encourage you to read through and see even more of the county’s investments in the adopted budget in brief at Finance.NHCgov.com.


Lower fire insurance premiums can help lead to economic development

Posted May 19, 2021 at 4:38 pm

May 19, 2021 By County Manager, Chris Coudriet A focus for New Hanover County is always on promoting intelligent growth and economic development. We want New Hanover County to be … Read More »


New Hanover County Makes Plans & Partnerships to Invest $45 Million in the Community

Posted April 20, 2021 at 8:43 am

April 20, 2021 By County Manager, Chris Coudriet Grants to businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the pandemic, infrastructure for a new business park on Blue Clay Road and programs designed to … Read More »


County saves more than $8 million through bond refunding

Posted March 19, 2021 at 9:15 am

March 19, 2021 By County Manager, Chris Coudriet Saving tax payer money is something that New Hanover County strives to do every day. It’s foundational to our strategy and vision … Read More »


Three years into the county’s five-year Strategic Plan

Posted February 16, 2021 at 8:16 am

February 16, 2021 By County Manager, Chris Coudriet New Hanover County is now at the three-year mark of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. We’re making progress on our goals, seeing areas where … Read More »