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Marion Barry wants mayor to spend $100m of D.C. surplus cash

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,Marion Barry,D.C. Council

Less than 48 hours after D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray unveiled a $417 million budget surplus, one of his predecessors is demanding the city spend part of it.

Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, the city's only four-term mayor, said Wednesday that he wants to require the District to spend $100 million of the 2012 fiscal year's surplus on social services and job training programs.

"Spend it on people," Barry told The Washington Examiner. "It's very vital when you have people suffering."

Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said earlier this week that they are planning for the extra money to go to the city's savings account, which would stand at $1.5 billion after the cash infusion.

Gray said a 2010 law requires him to save the money until the District has a large enough emergency reserve to operate the city government for two months without any income.

But Barry said he thinks his staff has found a way for his proposal to circumvent that statute.

"That's why I'm a good council member," said Barry, whose aides said he was prepared to work with Gray to forge a compromise.

Barry also took aim at Natwar Gandhi, the District's chief financial officer, for what he said were revenue forecasts that were badly off-base.

"You can't tell me that you can't do better estimation than that," Barry said. "Dr. Gandhi has done a good job in other areas, but in the comptroller function, he is doing less than acceptable."SClBSClBAnd Barry said he admonished Gandhi to improve his performance.

"I told Dr. Gandhi today, 'Dr. Gandhi, I'm going to be on your case,''' Barry said. "I'm putting a halt to these loose estimations."

Gandhi has defended his forecasting methods and said he has to be especially conservative so the federal government does not seize control of the city's finances again.

Barry was serving as mayor when that happened in 1995.

Spokesmen for Gray and Gandhi were not immediately available for comment.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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