Wilm. Council introduces budget amendment

By Tom Lehman 11:39pm, June 20, 2013 - Updated 10:33am, June 21, 2013
Council President Theo Gregory and Mayor Williams' Chief of Staff John Matlusky discuss the proposed budget amendment.
Wilmington City Council introduced an ordinance Thursday night to amend the $145 million Fiscal Year 2014 operating budget passed last month in an attempt to increase revenue collection.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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The amendment would allocate $80,000 to the city's finance department to hire temporary workers. Mayor Williams argues they could help collect at least $1.5 million. A special session will occur next week to vote on the amendment.

Council President Theo Gregory says the move is a compromise with the mayor's administration, which requested the Wilmington Economic and Financial Advisory Council meet this week to consider lowering the city's revenue projections.

"It's a compromise on our part to address an issue I disagree with, but if

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wants this, we're going to do this," Gregory says.

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However, Williams' Chief of Staff, John Matlusky, says the amendment vindicates the mayor and his administration after last month's budget clash.

Matlusky says "logic and reason finally found it's way to council," but says major changes affecting revenue projections shouldn't be made after the budget is approved.

"I think council has created this crisis and now all of the sudden at the eleventh hour, they are introducing an amendment--better late than never--to do the right thing," Matlusky said.

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In a statement, Mayor Williams said he's pleased to see council will consider amending the budget he vetoed in May. Council then voted to override the veto in a 10-3 decision.

Williams previously raised concerns in regards to whether the budget was balanced and over the spending plan's constitutionality.

"The business of the City is too critical to play games with public safety and other needed services, at-risk youth programs, employee’s pay, and the City’s bond rating," Williams said. "I am happy City Council has come around."

Matlusky says a legal challenge by the administration over the budget remains an option, but noted "we'll see what happens next week."

The spending plan goes into effect on July 1 and if amended, would increase to approximately $145.6 million. The projected surplus for the coming fiscal year would also drop from $297,000 to $108,141.

The amendment would also restore $300,000 to the mayor's contingency budget and $18,000 to the city's planning department to allow the department to hire a staff person to assist persons with disabilities.

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