Mayor Steve Bach announced six line-item vetoes to the 2012 city budget that he hopes will eliminate most changes the City Council made to his $225 million dollar plan.
City Council will meet Thursday to see if it can muster six votes to overcome any of those vetoes. Three members of Council — Tim Leigh, Merv Bennett and Angela Dougan — have already said they will not support any changes to the mayor's budget.
The mayor left in place three items that the Council added. Those were: $25,000 in extra funding for the Starsmore Discovery and Helen Hunt Falls visitor centers, $21,653 in additional funds for Rock Ledge Ranch, and $24,000 extra for the Accessible Coordinated Transportation, a group of nonprofits that provide rides for seniors and people with disabilities.
At the same time, the mayor said that if revenue projections remain unchanged, he would end all funding to those three entities in 2013. The extra money in 2012, he said, should be viewed as a bridge into self-sufficiency. Additionally, the mayor said the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation, the small business incubator, and the small business development center would also cease to get funding from the city in 2013 if the revenue forecast doesn't improve.
"We just have to face that we don't have unlimited funding," the mayor said.
The mayor pointed often to a chart outlining his revenue forecast, which shows the city will run out of money in 2019. He noted that his staff is currently working to develop a multi-year plan to address the problems, which would span through 2015.
Six other changes that Councilors proposed to the budget have been vetoed by the mayor. The mayor gave reasons ranging from the need to focus on core services to the need to retain his charter-granted powers.
After announcing his veto of $10,000 for the Old Colorado City Historical Society, the mayor noted that the organization "did not ask for the money." He added that he hoped volunteers would step up to fund entities like the historical society, and that if citizens tried to raise money to help community causes, he would personally "write a check."
Bach also addressed issues relating to his recent failed effort to end automatic raises for city employees. The power to issue such raises is held by Council, which rejected Bach's last-minute attempt to ditch them for 2012 earlier this week.
Bach said he did not know the raises existed until November when the subject was breached to him by City Councilor Tim Leigh. This was despite the fact that $750,000 was included in Bach's budget for the increases. Asked if anyone "got in trouble" for not telling him earlier of the raises, Bach said he planned to have a conversation with his staff to ask, "What was it about my directive [to freeze salaries] that folks didn't understand?"
Here's more detail on the vetoes:
Mayor Announces 2012 Budget Line Item Vetoes
Mayor Steve Bach released his line item vetoes to the 2012 annual budget ordinance adopted by City Council on second reading with a 7-2 vote December 13, 2011.
“While I accept some of Council’s recommended changes to the proposed 2012 budget, I cannot support some of its suggested non-essential service expenditures given the financial future we face. It would be irresponsible to accept them as we’re asking police and fire departments to operate within financial constraints” said Mayor Bach.
Mayor Bach’s 2012 Budget line item vetoes include:
$43,000 to change a Legislative Communications position from half-time to full time. (The Mayor cannot support this increase in this Budget Ordinance. Council’s change would increase by twofold the current annual expenditure for legislative expenditures without any objective data or factual basis to show that the increase would be used in a way that would result in measurable increased benefits to the City. The existing Communications staff can provide the desired communication services.)
$175,000 for City tennis courts maintenance and repairs. (The Mayor cannot support this meritorious but non-essential increase when current Police and Fire budgets are operating with constrained funds. This should be considered as part of the Parks Solutions Team initiative now underway, rather than as an individual decision. This is an opportunity for community partnership.)
$84,295 for 1.0 FTE Code Enforcement Officer. (The Mayor cannot support this non-essential increase at this time because it would increase by twofold the Mayor’s announced personnel increase for this Office. The Mayor’s announced increase should first be implemented and evaluated in 2012 before additional funds are appropriated).
$10,000 to the Old Colorado City Historical Society for education, history and culture. (The Mayor cannot support this meritorious but non-essential increase when current Police and Fire Budgets are being asked to operate with constrained funds and these monies have not been requested by the organization. This is an opportunity for community partnership.)
Move Colorado Municipal League and Pikes Peak Area Council of Government dues from General Costs budget to City Council budget for $0. (The Mayor cannot support this transfer of responsibility for funding these organizations because it inappropriately conflicts with the Charter assignment of all executive and administrative authority to the Mayor, who is the elected representative responsible for presenting the City’s position to these organizations.)
Authorize Parks staff to grow flowers for “Springs in Bloom” for $0. (This direction inappropriately conflicts with the Charter assignment of all executive and administrative authority to the Mayor, who is responsible for oversight and direction of Parks staff.)
Increase contribution to Fund Balance for $361,000. (The amount required to balance the budget is $673,295.)
Under the City Charter, Ordinance 1.2.108, “The Mayor shall have the power to review and approve or disapprove by veto ordinances finally passed on second reading by the City Council, subject to the provisions of Charter section 3-70 and this section.”
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