Springs mayor says he will disregard new budget ordinance
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said Thursday that City Council's budget department changes are illegal -- and, therefore, invalid and unenforceable.
In a media briefing, Bach said that the budget appropriations ordinance passed by City Council violates the city charter. Bach initially vetoed the ordinance. It appropriates 12 budget departments instead of the current five to make it more difficult for the mayor to move money from one department to another. Council overrode the veto Wednesday but Bach says he won't follow it.
"I'm directing city staff to disregard council's actions that are illegal," Bach said. "That means we will not be operating city government with 12 departments next year. We will operate the city government with the same five departments as we have in the first two years in the new executive mayor form of government."
City Attorney Chris Melcher sided with the mayor, telling KRDO NewsChannel 13 that the charter gives the mayor the exclusive authority to create the budget.
"The mayor creates the budget," Melcher said. "He is allowed to create five departments and council has misunderstood their role."
Council President Keith King said he strongly disagrees.
"The charter is very explicit that there are 12 departments," King said. "We've had other lawyers that we've talked to and consulted on this issue and they're very clear that there are 12 departments in the charter."
King said that the ordinance stands, and if Mayor Bach violates it by moving money from one of the 12 departments to another without approval, the council may initiate a lawsuit.
"I'm very disappointed that the mayor thinks he can ignore an ordinance and not do what the ordinance says," King said. "I don't think we can pick and choose the laws that we want to follow in this country."
Melcher said that he has given the same legal advice to both the council and the mayor and that he's warned council members that the ordinance violates city charter. King maintains that Melcher's advice is an opinion and not the law.
A lawsuit between City Council and the mayor would come at taxpayers' expense. Mayor Bach said he doesn't know exact numbers, but it could cost upwards of $1 million.
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