Wilmington’s mayor calls for special council session over budget, council says no

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams wants city council to meet Tuesday to deal with the budget impasse. Council says that’s not going to happen.

Williams vetoed the budget passed by Wilmington City Council on Thursday. Williams said the budget violated the state constitution because it was not balanced. The main disagreement is over how to fund the city parks and recreation department.

The mayor’s office spent Friday saying they would answer reporter questions about the veto. That never happened. Instead, the mayor’s communications office released a statement at 7 p.m. where Williams said he was going to invoke a special ordinance of the city charter which allowed him to call special meetings.

His office wrote, “The City Charter allows the Mayor to call a special meeting when required by public necessity. The purpose of this special meeting is the introduction of an amended operating budget ordinance…”

Wilmington usually passes a budget by May 31. That allows a month transition before the new fiscal year begins in July.

At 8:45, City Council President Theo Gregory put out the council’s response saying there would not be a meeting Tuesday. He said there was no public necessity and that there would be a regular council session on Thursday with the purpose of over riding the mayor’s veto.

Fights between Wilmington City Council and the mayor’s office are nothing new. Former Mayor Jim Baker was known for going toe to toe with council over budget and other issues.

Ironically, Baker told the News Journal Saturday that Williams is entering a fight he can’t win. He told the paper it does bode well for the next four years to have this fight now. Baker said, “There is a point where you have to understand you can only go so far with that battle.”

Under the parks funding the council passed budget cuts $110,000 out the mayor’s proposal, but says most of the items Williams asked for can be supported in other departments. In his Friday statement Williams said that while he and council disagree on some items on the budget it is important to take care of the critical needs of the city “including safe parks for the kids”.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal