Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Council and mayor make nice, grant mayor further powers

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Mayor Steve Bach
  • Mayor Steve Bach

Talk to City Councilors, and they'll lament the state of the city. Lack of communication. Secrecy. The degradation of their powers. (Read more on that last one in tomorrow's paper.)

But at today's meeting between Council and Mayor Steve Bach, none of the angst was on display. The mayor and Council appeared immensely pleased with each other, in fact.

The mayor started the meeting by saying he would fund the new Code Enforcement Officer and tennis court repairs that the Council had approved in the 2012 budget, putting an end to an issue that began to simmer when evidence surfaced that the mayor intended to ignore Council orders on those items.

The mayor's staff also assured Councilors that they'd soon get a copy of the city's final budget, including all changes since the mayor's proposed budget. That document would reveal if the mayor made any unilateral changes to the budget.

The mayor and Council also discussed a recent issue that popped up when the mayor refused to immediately sign a line of credit for Colorado Springs Utilities that Council, acting as the Utilities Board, had approved. Council has the sole right to govern Utilities under the charter, but the mayor is required to sign all city contracts, including those for Utilities. That requirement, it seems, can be used as a de facto veto by the mayor.

To avoid public conflicts, some Councilors suggested that all potential Utilities contracts go to the mayor and City Attorney Chris Melcher before they appear on a Utilities board agenda.

"One of the requests I've made of Chris Melcher is, I don't ever want this to happen again," Council President Scott Hente said.

The mayor and Melcher heartily approved of the suggestion, which essentially gives the mayor prior approval of all Utilities contracts.

Other topics discussed included:

• appropriate ways for Council to contact city staff, who are the mayor's employees, to answer their questions;

• how to create a single city strategic plan (the charter, oddly, calls for one from the mayor and one from the Council);

• how to approach redistricting of Council seats;

• how to present a united voice on legislative issues;

• when to ask voters to approve "housekeeping" items to the city charter, and what changes might be asked for.

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