By Michael Praats | April 27, 2021 at 2:44 PM EDT – Updated April 27 at 5:39 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – For years, city and county leaders have discussed the importance of affordable housing and public transportation. Now, elected officials are beginning to come together and putting aside past differences to address the needs of the community — which don’t stop at jurisdictional lines.
On Tuesday, both Wilmington City Council and the New Hanover Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting to discuss the two topics.
While there was lots of discussion during the three-hour meeting, one suggestion could have an impact on all residents — a newly proposed quarter-cent sales tax to help provide funding for WAVE Transit as well as other transportation projects.
The tax, which would have to be approved by voters as part of a referendum, would bring in an estimated $12 million.
Officials also voted to delay the implementation of the new WAVE redesign plan, which has been something both entities have been working on for about a year. The delay will allow WAVE’s new director a chance to feel out what is best for the community as well as allows both governments to figure out what to do with federal funding, said Vice Chair Deb Hayes.
“We’ve had CARES Act Money and now we’ve got ARP money that’s coming in so we got the opportunity to use these funds that are coming into our community to really improve and expound – not necessarily expand – but expound what we’ve got and do it right,” she said.
The focus on the need for public transit is something that commissioners and city council members have called for – but have struggled to implement.
“Economic development everywhere tells us that if we do not have this as part of our community we are not going to continue to attract the best of the best,” Hayes said.
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