White criticizes taxpayer money spent on printed invitations, catering for 'State of the County' speech

White criticizes taxpayer money spent on printed invitations, catering for 'State of the County' speech

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White criticized the expenses for printed invitations and catering of the annual "State of the County" address scheduled for this evening.

In a statement released Monday morning, White noted the use of taxpayer money could exceed a thousand dollars. White has been vocal about the annual county speech needing to address spending. However, Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield has not accepted topics for consideration from other commissioners for the speech he will give Monday evening, according to White.

White has said he'll release a videotaped rebuttal to Barfield's speech later this week, although it remains unclear how that will take place. County officials have been told that White is not allowed to use county resources for such a message.

White's full emailed statement follows:

"I look forward to hearing the address from Chairman Barfield tonight at 6:00. In drafting his view of the "State of the County" he sought no input from his colleagues about issues such as Commissioner spending, the travel policy, growing debt and spending. And while I am sure that some of his comments will be shared by everyone, the issues of Commissioner spending, growth of our county budget and borrowing practices are important, and should be given attention. I hope he will address them. But if not, later this week, I will issue a videotaped message that addresses these fiscal issues important to our citizens' future."

"There is tremendous value in elected officials speaking about issues important to the citizens. But I do not agree that tax dollars should have been used for private catering services and printed invitations for the Chairman's speech. The costs of this extravagance are likely to be over $1,000. For money to be spent in such a manner is not responsible and reflects a larger disregard of fiscal restraint and good stewardship of the taxpayer's hard earned money."

The clerk to the Board of Commissioners estimates the county will spend $1,016 with Bon Appetit to provide a free meal to everyone who shows up to the State of the County speech this evening. The clerk says the county has offered catered meals to the public at prior State of the County addresses. The county mailed printed invitations to 61 elected officials in the area, with that cost around $30 for postage.

County officials confirm that some of the previous State of the County addresses included a reception for the public in recent years.

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