Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) on Monday accused Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's (D) administration of overspending by $200 million, risking the city's ability to balance its budget.
Last week, Chief Financial Natwar Gandhi briefed council members on what Gray called the "very alarming fiscal condition of the city."
Gandhi's report shows the city has between $203 million and $223 million in "spending pressures" in the fiscal year 2010 budget. Some of the added costs relate to unforeseen expenses, such as $12 million in settlements, including the costs involving the Pershing Park mass arrest case. The District agreed to pay $8.25 million to almost 400 protesters and bystanders to end the lawsuit over the arrests in Pershing Park during World Bank protests in 2002.
But Gray, a potential challenger to Fenty in this year's Democratic primary for mayor, alleges the administration could have done a better job at controlling other expenses. The report notes, for example, the city spent $30 million more than budgeted to send public school students to specialized programs in private or neighboring public schools.
"The management end of this clearly falls on the executive," Gray said.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Gray and his colleagues plan to approve emergency legislation requiring Fenty to develop an immediate plan outlining how the administration plans to deal with the shortfall.
Combined with the effects of the continued sluggish economy, Gray said the city may be facing a $500 million in spending cuts when the council starts preparing the fiscal year 2011 budget this spring.
"I don't think we can afford to wait. Every day we wait, it gets tougher, "Gray said.
A Fenty spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.
-- Tim Craig