- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia’s capital city under Mayor L. Douglas Wilder spends more per capita than any other city in the commonwealth for administrative costs, and it spends less than the average on schools, an analysis shows.

The analysis of data from the state Auditor of Public Accounts’ annual report was conducted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reported its findings last week. It found that Richmond has the biggest administrative overhead of any city or county in Virginia — 13 percent more on a per-capita basis than runner-up Fairfax and 30 percent more than Alexandria.

Asked by the newspaper about the administrative spending, Mr. Wilder said, “I haven’t got a clue.”

The former governor blamed the City Council for the increased spending, noting that several new staff positions have boosted spending about $1 million.

But the state auditor’s report showed the council’s spending on its operation rose $1.2 million since Mr. Wilder took office and total administrative spending rose $10 million. That total includes the council, mayor and chief administrative officer’s staff, as well as purchasing, vehicles, insurance and data-processing departments.

The report also found that Richmond:

n Spends more, as a percentage of its budget and per capita, on police than any other community except Fairfax and Alexandria.

n Spends a smaller share of its budget on schools than the state average. The city spends 40 percent of all revenue on schools, compared with a state average of 55 percent.

n Ranks 31st in the state, in per-capita school spending.

n Ranks third, behind Petersburg and Fairfax, in per-capita spending on contractors.

Former School Board Chairman David L. Ballard said Mr. Wilder and other officials have not been held accountable for promises to cut spending.

“The big money isn’t in the schools; it is in the city’s administrative overhead,” he said. “There is a lot of money to be saved in city departments as well as in the schools.”

City Council President William J. Pantele said politics often drive spending cuts. He cited the council’s efforts last year to trim the city’s vehicle fleet, which sparked threats from Mr. Wilder to cut trash collection.

“When we wanted a 1 percent across-the-board spending cut,” he said, “all we got was screaming.”

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