Wilm. City Council approves budget amendments

By Tom Lehman 1:02am, January 18, 2013 - Updated 4:35pm, January 18, 2013
Wilm. City Council Members Loretta Walsh, Maria Cabrera and Bud Freel and Council President Theo Gregory weigh in.
Wilmington City Council has approved a reduced budget increase proposed by Mayor Williams.

City Council has approved an amendment that increases the 2013 fiscal year budget by $106,793--about half of what was originally requested. The new staff positions would add about $200,000 annually starting in fiscal year 2014.

Council President Theo Gregory says a vacant position in both the Parks and Recreation and Finance departments will be cut in the budget amendment as cost saving measures.

"He indicated he needed five positions on the 9th floor. We thought he should keep those positions but we wanted him to cut elsewhere," he says.

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Two councilmen, Bud Freel and Justen Wright voted against the amended budget.

Freel, who is also chair of the council's finance committee, says he opposed adding the new budget amid a projected deficit in the next fiscal year.

"My bigger concern with the five new positions is really as we look at the big picture and the fact that we have to deal with probably a $6 million deficit in fiscal year 2014," he says.

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Freel also says uncertainty regarding how the mayor intends to cut costs prompted his vote against the measure.

"I have no idea yet how he's going to address

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, so to be adding money to that--even small amounts--concerns me a great deal," he says.

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Councilwoman Loretta Walsh says she supports the incoming mayor's request, but says the larger staff needs to be productive.

"I think when the mayor goes forth from here on in, especially with the budget coming up, that he really has to stop looking for chiefs and really start making the chiefs that have been there when he came in and the ones he's appointing that they start producing," she says.

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Gregory says getting the mayor's budget amendment approved is only the first step as the fiscal year 2014 budget begins to take shape.

"This is the first hurdle. There's a second hurdle the next four months that we have to deal with, and who knows, it might come back and something else might be cut,"

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