COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach announced Wednesday that he vetoes several budget items and certain sections of the 2014 Budget Ordinance that was passed by City Council.
In an 8-1 vote, City Council voted to approve the $394 million budget, making changes to about 1-percent of Bach's original proposal -- about $1.5 million. Mayor Bach vetoed almost all of the changes, including council's vote to increase spending on City Parks watering and alotting less money to the Colorado Springs Police Department, Convention and Visitor Bureau and Regional Business Alliance and eliminating the newly-created Deputy Director of Office of Emergency Management position.
"I am tired of people saying that we are diminishing our support of parks," Bach said. "That is not factually correct.
Bach's proposal includes a $7 million increase for CSPD. He says it's needed to replace old vehicles and ensure faster response times to emergencies.
"I just cannot approve council arbitrarily taking scarce and valuable resources away from the police department," Bach said.
CSPD Deputy Chief Vince Niski said that he was concerned about officers driving vehicles that have been identified as beyond their life expectancy.
Mayor Bach's biggest disapproval was of an ordinance passed by City Council that would limit his powers.
City Council passed an ordinance that would create 12 city budget departments as opposed to the current five. Council wants to ensure that Bach can't move money from one department to another without council's approval. Bach's been criticized in the past for giving generous severance packages to former department heads and handing out large bonuses to members of his staff without council's consent.
"Citizens here voted to change the form of government," Bach said. "Trying to increase the number of departments is simply an attempt to put the mayor in a straight jacket."
Councilwoman Jill Gaebler was one of two council members to attend Bach's media briefing Wednesday morning. She told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that she agreed with some of Mayor Bach's vetoes, including eliminating the new Office of Emergency Management position. She says council will be willing to revisit the items Bach vetoed, but that council is simply trying to gain more transparency over how operations are funded.
"The council is just working within the charter to try to help run the city with a lot of transparency," Gaebler said. "Currently the mayor of Colorado Springs has more power over taxpayer dollars than either the Colorado governor or the president of the United States."
City Council now has the opportunity to override Mayor Bach's vetoes. They will meet to discuss changes next Tuesday.