Posted 5:29 PM 12/15/2011 : Council overrides several mayoral vetoes
An emergency meeting of City Council was held in Colorado Springs Thursday afternoon to vote on seven of Mayor Steve Bach's vetoes to the 2012 budget.
In all, Council voted down 5 of the 7 vetoes. The biggest was a $175,000 price tag to repair and maintain city tennis courts. Two thirds of council passed it. "When a person looks to move to a city, they look at things like what are the arts? What is the culture? What are the recreational activities along with parks and transit?" explained Councilman Bernie Herpin, "To me this was an important but small aspect of our quality of life in Colorado Springs."
Councilman Tim Leigh was one of those who voted against the tennis court spending. He voted to keep all of the vetoes except one. He agrees recreation is important, but not at this point in the city's financial plans. "I'm like the sports guy. I'm the bike guy. I'm the duck pond guy. I'm the parks guy. I want to see all of these things happen, but you need to be reasonable about it." he said, "You need to pay for it when you have the money to do it."
Another big ticket item which was added came with the addition of more than $84,000 for the city to add an additional Code Enforcement Officer. "We had cut back the code enforcement when we had some cutbacks. So this was kind of to restore them do where they were before. I thought that was very important for our city." said Herpin.
Overall, Leigh just thought it was all too much. "We're kind of in a lull in the city. It seems like people forget (that) our revenue forecasts are not robust." he said, "Our expenses continue to grow. At some point you have to reel in spending and you have to control the budget."
Council also reinstated a $43,000 Legislative Communications position. The only item expenditure that wasn't changed was a contribution of $10,000 that would have been made by the city to The Old Colorado City Historical Society. A decision on platting city flowers at no expense was also voted down.
Under the new government these overrides made by city council are now final and will be included in the 2012 budget.
Mayor Bach's office released this statement after the council meeting. It reads, "City Council has the last word on this matter and we respect that. Our focus will remain on transforming City government to be fiscally sustainable, while we continue to work to improve customer service and retain great employees,"