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Gandhi warns council on fee maneuver

Washington Post Editors

Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi is warning D.C. Council members that its vote to table a proposal by the mayor to raise or impose hundreds of fees could cost the city $2.3 million in revenue this summer.

On Tuesday, the council boldly tabled MayorAdrian M. Fenty's proposal and said that the first-term mayor now running for reelection should implement the new fees through rulemaking.

The action was considered a stealth move by political insiders because it shields the council from taking the blame for higher fees, particularly with the September Democratic primary fast approaching. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) is Fenty's chief rival in the mayor's race.

In his 2006 campaign, Fenty (D) promised that he would not propose new taxes, leaving council members to create and approve higher sales, cigarette and gas taxes, and leaving them with the blame.

But in a letter delivered Thursday night to Fenty and Gray, Gandhi explained that the implementation and collection of the fees and fines, which would apply to fiscal 2010, would be delayed by one month if the council requires the mayor to impose the levies by rulemaking.

If the council votes on the mayor's proposal, collections would begin by July 1 and would raise about $7 million in revenue, Gandhi said in the letter.

If the mayor imposes the fees, collections would not begin until August 1 and would generate about $4.7 million.

"I felt it necessary to bring this to your attention," Gandhi wrote.

Eric Goulet, the council's budget director, said he is looking into the issue.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Washington Post Editors  |  May 21, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , Budget , City Finances , D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart , Vincent C. Gray  | Tags: adrian fenty, d.c. budget, fee increases, gandhi wanrs council about tabling fee increase, natwar gandhi, vincent gray  
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looks like Fenty is pulling Ghandi's chain again. Poor Nat Ghandi.

Posted by: gordonbundy | May 21, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

poor Nat. The spelling of his name gets butchered all the time.

My favorite part is how this stealth move only works if Gray spins it to a reporter. All spinning aside, there's no such thing as a bold move to put a decision off until later.

More importantly, why should it be acceptable for the council to dodge all responsibility for the way the city runs? If the council does nothing, its inaction is a tacit endorsement of the fees. In reality it doesn't matter if the council winks, crosses its fingers, or calls punchbuggy-no-punch-backs.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 22, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

I see Fenty is at puppeteering the CFO again.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | May 24, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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