Wildwood’s City Council, on Dec. 8, gave final approval by a vote of 12 to 1 to legislation accepting the city’s proposed fiscal year 2015 municipal budget.
Councilmember Debra Smith McCutchen (Ward 5) was opposed; Councilmembers Jeffrey Levitt (Ward 7), David Sewell (Ward 6) and Paul Wojciechowski (Ward 8) were absent.
The council also voted 4 to 9 to defeat an amendment proposed by McCutchen that would have included $700,000 to construct a Ward 5 neighborhood pocket park. Only McCutchen, Dave Bertolino (Ward 5), Sue Cullinane (Ward 3) and Jim Bowlin (Ward 6) were in favor of the park.
The budget, for the fiscal year starting Jan. 1, estimates total revenues from all funds at $16,737,060 and estimated total expenses from all funds at $22,797,976.
The Ward 5 park, advocated by McCutchen, had previously been targeted for the end of the Pond-Grover Loop Road on land owned by the city.
McCuthchen in recent weeks has protested that a previously budgeted amount of $700,000 for the Ward 5 park had been removed from the FY2015 budget.
During public comments at the Dec. 8 meeting, Betsy Vanderheyden, who lives on Birch Forest Drive in Ward 5’s Evergreen subdivision, said a park with a playground in Ward 5 has been in the planning process and included in the budget for over three years.
“It needs to be built and the only suitable site is the Pond-Grover Loop Road,” she said. “Ward 5 is the most densely populated area in Wildwood, and I ask you reconsider the $700,000 in the budget and provide residents with this much-needed green space.”
Two areas of green space were included in the FY2015 budget, including Phase 1 of the city’s Community Park, located near the intersection of highways 109 and 100, and development of a possible Village Green, near the city’s Town Center. During the budget’s first reading on Nov. 25, McCutchen said about $1 million had been included in the FY15 budget for land acquisition in the Town Center area on which to develop a Village Green.