Wilmington city council approves FY14 budget, mayor vows a veto

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said he will veto the FY 2014 operating budget passed by Wilmington City Council in a 10-2 vote Thursday night.

The announcement follows a series of back and fourth disagreements between the mayor’s office and City Council regarding the $145 million proposed budget.

While Williams has the power to veto the budget, City Council has the final move.

“Should the mayor veto the budget, then council will schedule a vote to override the veto, if it is successful, if the council is successful then the budget can fall,” explained John Rago, director of communications and policy development for Wilmington City Council. “If it is not successful, if it is not able to override the veto, then essentially the process starts over again and you try to reach an agreement on a new budget.”

City council’s budget included rearranging approximately $1.4 million from the mayor’s original proposal.

Mayor Williams had several problems with city council’s budget, particularly with the elimination of $300,000 for the Contingency Fund.

“The elimination of the Contingency Fund is unprecedented and completely irresponsible,” said Mayor Williams in a statement following council’s vote.

The budget also removes $250,000 dedicated to the Department of Parks and Recreation, one of Mayor William’s passion projects. Instead, the approved budget “restores” that money to City Council to fund youth development programs, education reforms and community programs.

Council’s budget also eliminates the position of the deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for a savings of $110,400.

According to Williams, that’s an “unconstitutional” move since it’s an appointed position within his cabinet.

Williams said he plans to continue to work with City Council to develop a budget by the May 31 deadline.

“I am confident the city will have a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year,” said Mayor Williams. “We will get there. I’ll veto this budget and we will continue working with council to come up with a plan that is legal and is in the best interest of our citizens.”

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