Gray goes to Ward 2 town hall to sell budget proposal

Mayor Vincent Gray demonstrates how to use a smartphone app, launched April 11, that allows D.C. residents to submit requests for city service improvements at a Ward 2 town hall Thursday. Shannon Brown | Hatchet Photographer

This report was written by Hatchet staff writer Frankie Kane.

Mayor Vincent Gray fielded questions on his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal from residents Thursday at a town hall.

The mayor said the budget’s mantra was to “seize our future” during the meeting for Ward 2 – which GW falls under – at the Charles Sumner School near 17th and M streets. Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans joined Gray, lauding the city’s financial state.

“I wouldn’t trade our financial situation in the District of Columbia for any city, state or county in America,” Evans, who sits on the council’s finance committee, said. “The mayor’s budget this year, I am in very much support of.”

The mayor plans to close a $171.2 million gap through both spending cuts and new revenue Gray hopes money can funnel into the city’s pockets through extended hours for alcohol sales. The proposal would allow bars and nightclubs to remain open and sell alcohol until 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends, and liquor stores would also be able to open an hour earlier – at 7 a.m. – creating a projected $5.3 million in new revenue.

He is also looking to rein in $24.8 million from stricter enforcement of traffic regulations through increased speeding and red light ticket cameras.

The proposal also includes a 12-item wishlist of initiatives to fund if the city were to collect more revenue than projected, including extra money for homeless services and restoration of health care funds that were cut in the proposal.

Gray is taking his budget across the District’s eight wards to hold question-and-answer sessions for public feedback.

“We try to be as transparent as we can,” he said. “We will continue to do this across the city.”

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