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City council challenges Mayor Bach's power

City council challenges Mayor Bach's power

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs City Council is preparing to vote on an ordinance that would challenge Mayor Steve Bach's power over the 2014 budget.

According to councilman Don Knight, who drafted several versions of the ordinance, the council wants to hold the mayor accountable to how he says he will spend the money.  In the past, Knight says, it hasn't always been that way.

"Case in point was the bonus given last year to the city attorney," Knight said.  Last year, City Attorney Chris Melcher and Bach's Chief of Staff Laura Neumann were each given $25,000 bonuses.  Those bonuses were not expressly stated in the 2013 budget and were not approved by City Council.

"We're not meeting what the citizens expect us to do," said councilman Joel Miller. "We're writing a blank check."

The ordinance Knight proposed would essentially make it so that Bach could not move money from one department to another without council's approval.  

At Wednesday's budget work session, Neumann said that Bach cannot support the ordinances as they are written.  She asked that the proposals be consolidated to one ordinance for Bach's review.

Councilman Merv Bennett said he could not approve something that has not been approved by legislative counsel.  The ordinances will now be reviewed and revised by the City Attorney's Office.

Miller argued that council members should still share their individual views.  "I would like us to give direction as to what council wants to do, as opposed to what our lawyers tell us what they think we can do," he said.

Councilwoman Helen Collins expressed frustration that decisions are not being made sooner.  "All you council members had time to comment, but you wait until a public, informal work session to make your comments," she said.

City Council will address the ordinance again on Monday. A vote is expected on Tuesday.  Knight told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that he hopes an agreement is made by then.

"Whatever we do, we have to make sure we do it right, but we have to do it different from what we've done in the past," Knight said.

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