City Council Ignores the Controlling Legal Opinion of City Solicitor

Posted on  05/16/2013 9:20 pm

Despite two legal opinions issued by the City Solicitor Michael P. Migliore citing proposed actions included in the budget were unconstitutional, as well as a violation of City Charter, tonight, City Council passed the Council Finance Committee's proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Operating Budget with a vote of 10 yes, two no, and one present. Mayor Dennis P. Williams confirms he will veto.

Council's version of the budget eliminated the $300,000 Contingency Fund for emergencies and unanticipated budgetary expenses. "The elimination of the Contingency Fund is unprecedented and completely irresponsible," said Mayor Williams.
Council rejected Mayor Williams' proposed budget, which included no property tax increase, no layoffs, no cuts in public safety and no cuts in services to citizens. Despite a widely projected 15% property tax increase for the FY 2014 budget, Mayor Williams and his Administration successfully avoided any tax increases.

"We have worked diligently to work with City Council and reach a compromise," said Mayor Williams. "It's not about me and it's not about City Council; it's about proposing a budget that is legal, fiscally responsible, and serves the citizens of the City of Wilmington."

However, this proposal was rejected by Council by the Finance Committee.

Despite the latest effort to compromise, Council moved forward with the budget crafted by Council President Theopalis K. Gregory, Sr. and Finance Committee Chair Charles Freel.

Mayor Williams asserted his willingness to meet Council half-way, but stated, "What I cannot and will not do is accept a proposal the City Solicitor indicates is unconstitutional due to a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers."
As required by City Charter, City Council must adopt a budget on or before May 31st of each year.

"I am confident the City will have a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. We will get there. I'll veto this budget and we will continue working with Council to come up with a plan that is legal and is in the best interest of our citizens," said Mayor Williams.