Wilmington City Council overrides Mayor’s budge veto

The ongoing budget drama between Wilmington City Council and Mayor Jim Baker ended rather undramatically, during a special session called by council Thursday.

In a 9-4 vote, City Council successfully overrode Mayor Baker’s veto of a budget plan approved by council last week. Consequently, council’s budget proposal now becomes law, but not without changes.

During the meeting, Council President Norman Griffiths said the city’s FY2012 operating budget is not council’s budget or the Mayor’s, but described it as a compromise. Finance Chair Charles “Bud” Freel says this amended version includes give and take from both sides.

Currently, the $140 million budget does not include any property tax increases or the use of any cash reserves. Freel says it also restores the position in the Finance Division that Griffiths said resulted in the Mayor’s veto; a position the Mayor states is vital to collecting millions of dollars in revenue owed to the city. In exchange, Freel said the administration will eliminate other positions. Part of the compromise would also allow a handful of employees to receive raises, but Freel said, the budget does not make cuts to any city services or programs.

“This part of the budget process has ended, but there are still important issues such as securing our ability to properly collect City revenue that have to be settled,” said Mayor Baker. “I am asking Council to act as quickly as possible on the budget amendment so we can have these positions in place before the start of the new fiscal year. “

The Finance Committee meets Tuesday, May 31st, to discuss the amendment. The new budget goes into effect July 1, 2011.

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