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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s finally pay back time for New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger.

Berger paid a portion of the more than $400 he owes the county in travel expenses, but the story does not stop there.

After several discussions and e-mails between county staff and Berger, the commissioner has paid less than half of his travel debt. To finally move on, the county manager wants to waive the remaining debt, but commissioners say not so fast.

After Monday’s New Hanover County Commission meeting, Berger handed over $160 to County Manager Chris Coudriet. According to an e-mail from Coudriet, Berger refused to pay the remaining $287 saying he is not obligated to, based on his review of an August invoice.

“My concern is that he doesn’t have the resources to pay that balance,” County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said.

In his e-mail, Coudriet told commissioners he plans to ask the county finance staff to write off Berger’s remaining debt in an effort to move forward. But commissioners are not too happy with this.

“We voted on this unanimously as a board, and if we’re going to waive any remaining costs, we need to vote on that,” Commissioner Rick Catlin said.

Earlier this year, the board unanimously approved a travel policy, requiring commissioners to pay off any debt before being allowed to travel again.

“He needs to really pay back the money that he owes to the county in its entirety for the policy to be fulfilled,” Barfield said.

Though commissioners we spoke with want to move on, they say any changes must be decided by the board and not the county manager.

“I do understand Chris’s desire to move forward,” Catlin said. “I know that it has caused staff a lot of stress, but we do need to vote on it.”

Wednesday night, Commissioner Berger said the county is out-right lying about the debt amount and says he has sacrificed more than any elected official in Southeastern North Carolina.

“I said, half joking when I was running that I would eat out of garbage cans and live on the streets with my dog if I had to in order to maintain my integrity and fulfill the responsibilities of the office,” Berger says. “I didn’t realize how close I would come to that, but it still holds true that I think public service should involve sacrifice.”

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25 Comments on "Coudriet offers to forgive remaining Berger debt; commissioners say not so fast"

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Peyton Garrett
2016 years 19 hours ago

Touche’ ChefnSurf.

2016 years 19 hours ago

They already did take his property.

Didn’t you read the articles on his pathetic foreclosure?

Guess he didn’t have the means to pay for that either.

2016 years 19 hours ago

The expenses are hotel and confernece fees, if memory serves me correctly. A county employee probaly booked the hotel and paid the conference regristration fees using county money. Which is fine if Berger would have shown up for the conferences, but he blew them off. That is why he owes the county money.

Wilmington Observer
2016 years 19 hours ago

Mr. Berger owes me (tax payer) the outstanding $287.16 and I don’t authorize anyone to forgive this, outstanding debt. If I owed the county an outstanding balance I would have my wages garnished and my property seized, for auction. Mr. Berger should be held to a higher standard than those for whom he was elected to represent.

Wilmington Observer

2016 years 19 hours ago

The expenses may have been necessary, but he was irresponsible. He would make reservations and have the county pay registration fees, then not show up. Taxpayers are now responsible for his irresponsibility. Both the city and the county have travel policies in place (Berger even voted for the County policy) of how much they are allowed to spend on travel and reimbursing for expenses that are not covered, like maybe spending too much on a meal. This is supposed to help keep everyone straight. Berger is breaking the rule he voted for.

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