Wilmington mayor and city council butt heads before vote

In a few hours, Wilmington City Council will vote on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, in spite of a threatened veto by Mayor Dennis Williams

“My administration has made every effort to compromise and we remain open to continued discussion; however, council’s proposed budget, would leave me no option but to veto,” said Mayor Dennis Williams.

Countering the mayor’s words, Council President Theo Gregory says Williams has been dismissive, adding council members will not be intimidated.

“Instead of sitting down and discussing his concerns over the budget and looking for ways to compromise, the mayor instead is threatening to veto the budget and threatening to take legal action against our council,” said Gregory. “It is evident that he’s adopted the bullying and intimidation approach to governing.”

At issue are budget amendments city council made to the mayor’s budget proposal. The changes move around $1.4 million, changes Mayor Williams says could be unconstitutional and have negative impacts on city services.

“It is no easy task to avoid a projected 15 percent property tax increase and layoffs, but I am determined not to place that burden on our citizens and employees,” said Williams. “Council’s proposal initiates a layoff by eliminating the currently occupied Deputy Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation position.”

Williams’ administration says the mayor was also perplexed by council’s request to add $250,000 to their budget for unspecified programs.

“Frankly, I have concerns about an unspecified council-controlled fund that will be administered by council,” said Williams.

Gregory claims adding a $250,000 budget line for city-related grants is something every city council has done for the past 30 years.

“The mayor has two similar discretionary budget lines in his budget totaling nearly $600,000,” Gregory pointed out. “The mayor’s actions in this budget process are now endangering his discretionary funds and council may take action tomorrow night to block his access to those funds until we settle a dispute that I know is not based in the law, but on politics of the worst kind.”

City council meets inside the Louis L. Redding City/County Building tonight at 6:30. WITN will stream the meeting live if you can’t attend.

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