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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The relationship between New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger and the rest of the board has been sour for quite some time, and this morning’s meeting did not help improve it.

A vote to transfer thousands of dollars in private donations to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority to help county residents without water seemed to be a no-brainer to the majority of county commissioners. Two we spoke with say they just don’t understand why Berger would vote against it.

“I don’t know why he would oppose people donating money,” Commissioner Rick Catlin said. “I mean, I didn’t understand why he opposed it.”

Commissioner Jason Thompson said, “People trusted the county to collect their donations and then to provide it to those who needed assistance, so how could I not vote for that?”

Berger was the only commissioner who voted against transferring $10,000 in private donations to CFPUA’s fund to help customers with their water bills.

“It doesn’t seem like the right comprehensive way to approach a major, major problem,” Berger said.

“Basically what he says by voting no is good-hearted citizens in our community who donate money to a charity through the county, ah we’re going to keep your money and not give it to the charity. That doesn’t make sense,” Thompson said.

According to Berger, it makes perfect sense. His explanation was that the county should instead work to lower CFPUA’s rates so that fewer people need the donations.

“If you don’t have to subsidize something that is necessary by being fiscally responsible so that you’re not putting undue strain and financial pressure on the citizens and tax payers, that is ultimately what the goal should be,” Berger said.

But back in April, Berger who served on the CFPUA’s board, voted in favor of changing water tiers and raising their rates.

“It didn’t make sense to me, and he can say all day long, ‘I didn’t vote for it,’ but there’s written records, there’s video. You can see it. He certainly did,” Thompson said.

Thompson says this is not the first time Berger has flip-flopped on issues. He says Berger’s actions are inconsistent with his comments; an ongoing theme since he started on the board.

“If you don’t understand what you’re voting on, then you either need to get up to speed, or you need to go somewhere else, because it is far too important to not understand your yes and no votes,” Thompson said.

We tried to talk to Commissioner Berger about his vote today. He has not returned our messages.

Comment on this Story

  • Brian Berger anyone who agrees with anything Berger says should get to know alot more about him. Rick Catlin is the best commissioner Wilmington has ever had!

  • Guest228

    by no means am I saying Brian Berger is doing a great job as commissioner..by NO MEANS, but he does have a point in lowering rates so that people can afford to pay their water bills. You would think in this news story that CFPUA would come out and match the amount that the commissioners raised for those without water. The high execs make 10,000 a month which tells you their priority to their customers. The figure was over $150,000 dollars needed to pay off bills for people in NH County without water. 10,000 is not even a dent in that figure. I applaud the commission in coming up with something which is more than what CFPUA has done. People water bills are like car payments now. Pay your water or buy food for your family? 480 families are without water in Wilmington. As someone said, this is not Haiti, we as a community shouldnt have people going without water. If there are kids or elderly in the home, utilities should not be cut off!

  • Guest Lee

    I hate to admit that I’m thinking along the same lines you mentioned too.

    I know there are certain people that need help…the elderly on fixed incomes especially comes to mind. However, there should be some sort of guidelines as to which customers bills get paid to make sure they are legitimately in need, rather than someone who is just trying to get a free handout.

    There has to be some sort of guidelines, or this will be a disaster!

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Every time this guy (Berger) shows up in the news, I have the cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn voice in my head saying, “I say, I say that boy is about as sharp as a sack fulla wet mice!”

    So, people SPECIFICALLY donated money for the purpose of GIVING the money to CFPUA to address this problem, and HE votes against it?

    He says the County should be working to keep the rates down? From the position of County Commissioner, good luck with that. Those attempts are futile…the two county commissioners who sit on the CFPUA Board (you used to be one) can work with the other NINE, but beyond that, you are tilting at windmills sitting strictly from the position of County Commissioner.

    Thankfully, the other four commissioners voting to approve the transfer of money DONATED for this intended purpose prevailed.

    And now, you forgot your own voting record? “I say I say, that boy is about a sharp as a bowling ball.”

    What did you want to do with the money, Brian? Make a few mortgage payments?

  • Peyton Garrett

    I guess it is OK for Brian to put strain and financial hardship on constituents when He wrecks their car, does not follow up diligently and take care of business in a prudent, professional way. What goes around is coming full circle Mr. Berger and it is getting ready to bite You in the rear.

  • Ed

    He does have a point CFPU has raised rates so many time, what to say they dont use that money somewhere else or if they do get the water on for these folks thier constant rate hikes would make impossible for those same people to pay thier bill sounds counter productive, I think the money be put into an account Not in CFPU coffers to be used what it was intended for.

  • screwed up system

    Leave Brian out of this one…this is a sham, it will only let people know to ignore their bills and “someone” will bail them out…always a safety net…we are taught not to be responsible-throw our money away, someone or some agency will bail us out…where will it all end???

  • Peyton Garrett

    Boy Brian, You really showed them. You went against the grain on this vote. You should really keep voting like this. You are so enthralled with yourself You don’t even know how You voted back in April. You contradict Yourself so much, You tell so many lies, are so delusional at this point that I can not believe You know which shoe to put on which foot. You sir are just a piece of crap. You should try flushing yourself, it might work.

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