Council President Theo Gregory said that the cuts would ease the tax burden of Wilmington residents.
The Wilmington City Council announced that it will meet on on Tuesday, July 29 at 6 p.m. to overide a veto signed last week by Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams. The veto was issued in response to council’s approval of over $500,000 in spending cuts to the Wilmington Fire Dept.
On Tuesday, Council President Theo Gregory emphasized council’s commitment to public safety, but noted in a statement that fiscal responsibility “requires leaders of government to make tough decisions about reducing government expenditures and mitigating the tax burden on citizens and businesses.”
Since the measure was initially floated and ultimately adopted, WFD Chief Anothony Goode was outspoken in his opposition to the cuts, which he feels could endanger residents and firefighters.
At a press conference held last week, Goode and members of the WFD backed Williams as he signed the veto at Wilmington’s Fire Station 4. Goode said the veto allows the WFD to evenly distribute services throughout the city.
“Someone’s life over in Southbridge is no more valuable than someone’s life in Rockwood Park and vice versa,” Goode said last week. “We have to take and evenly distribute our safety measures throughout the city.”
On Friday, Williams expressed an interest in reducing the size of city government.
“I believe the effort to control spending should be one that is collaborative and shared,” he said, “and not done at the expense of public safety.”
Gregory said that concerns about a reduction of the fire department’s annual appropriation affecting the delivery of fire services are unfounded, and are intended “to frighten citizens and prompt an emotional response.”
He suggested that if the fire department reductions had been in place last May when the city budget was being debated, a 5 percent tax increase that went into effect on July 1 could have been reduced to 3.6 percent.
Gregory said the override could result in “real, tangible savings for taxpayers.”
“Hopefully,” said Gregory, “the result will be good for taxpayers next Tuesday when Council meets to override the Mayor’s veto.”