Wilmington approves additional Florence funds

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The city has designated $22 million to be spent on hurricane recovery.

WILMINGTON — The cost for the City of Wilmington’s hurricane recovery continues to climb.

During its meeting Wednesday, council approved allocating $4.5 million from the city’s debt service fund to help with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts.

The vote brings the city’s total allocation on Florence recovery efforts to $22 million, with $19 expected to be used on debris removal and monitoring, $2.3 million on building repairs and $654,000 on overtime worked by employees during the storm.

Previously, council appropriated $9 million from its general fund and $8.5 million from the debt service fund.

Jennifer Maready, the city’s finance director, also discussed how the city will recoup some of those funds.. Staff is set to meet with the city’s assigned Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representative Nov. 13, at which time they hope to present a project sheet requesting 75 percent reimbursement for debris removal efforts.

According to documents prepared for council, the debt service fund could be repaid in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Maready also warned that she may need to return to council to ask for additional funding requests, which would be drawn from the city’s general fund.

The allocation was passed by a unanimous vote of the five members present. Mayor Bill Saffo and Councilman Clifford Barnett were not at Wednesday’s meeting, which was rescheduled from its typical first Tuesday of the month due to elections.

City council also approved a $569,693 allocation to the Town of Wrightsville Beach as part of an interlocal agreement the city and town entered into in order to facilitate the development of the old Galleria property at 6730 Wrightsville Avenue, which currently houses a New Hanover County ABC store.

As part of the agreement, the city would trade the parcel at 7000 Wrightsville Avenue that will eventually house the ABC Store in exchange for the current site at 6730 Wrightsville Avenue. While the new store is being built, the city will collect revenue from the store, funds that it will send along to Wrightsville Beach.

In response to a question from Councilman Kevin O’Grady, Maready said the city is not sending the full allocation along to Wrightsville Beach at once, but, rather, collects the funds monthly and will send them along as requested. The $569,000 number, Maready noted, is an estimate for the first full year of the agreement.

“As it comes in, it’s like a pass-through through us,” Maready said.

Reporter Adam Wagner can be reached at Adam.Wagner@GateHouseMedia.com.