City of Colorado Springs / Mayor's Office / News

Mayor Bach declares Council‚??s veto override to a portion of the 2015 Appropriation & Budget Ordinance ‚??null and void‚?Ě
Tuesday, December 09, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— Today, in a letter to City Council, Mayor Steve Bach said he would consider the vetoed portions of the 2015 Annual Appropriation Ordinance No. 14-101 that Council overrode today, Dec. 9, “to be null and void”.

On Nov. 26 Mayor Bach vetoed portions of the 2015 Annual Appropriation Ordinance that Council approved in its Nov. 25 session (Ordinance 14-101).  These were the second sentence of Section 1, and Sections 3(A), 3(B) and 3(C) of the Ordinance. The Mayor approved the remainder of the Ordinance.

Today, Council voted 6-2 to override the Mayor’s veto actions only as to the second sentence of Section 1. Mayor Bach expressed his appreciation to Council for not overriding his vetoes of Sections 3(A), 3(B) and 3(C).

City Council approved the 2015 City budget the Mayor submitted to Council without any changes to the actual budget or proposed funding of the City’s departments, functions, services and programs. However, it had added language in Section 1 of the Annual Appropriation Ordinance changing the form of budget from the six (6) departments submitted by the Mayor to twelve (12) departments. Such action is not within the Council’s limited Charter authority to add or increase or delete or decrease programs or amounts.  Mayor Bach had previously vetoed this language saying, “This action usurps the Mayor’s executive authority, exceeds Council’s authority and violates separation of powers by significantly limiting the Mayor’s authority to manage the budgets of City Departments under his direction and control.”

The 2015 Annual Appropriation Ordinance passed by City Council also included other conditions and requirements expressly designed to restrict executive authority in running the City and administering the budget.  Council did not override the Mayor’s veto of this provision, which attempted to allow Council to control the executive function to enter contracts, including employment agreements, expend appropriated funds for the purposes set forth in the budget and permit the Council to self-initiate amendments to the annual appropriation ordinance. In the Mayor’s letter to Council (Dec. 9) he stated that “Council has no Charter authority to direct the administrative action of the City Attorney or to interfere in the making or administering of contracts for any purpose, which includes both contracts for legal services and employment agreements.”   According to the City Attorney’s Office, these attempts by Council to control executive functions through creative language violate the separation of powers established by the City Charter.

During Council’s override discussion, some members of Council asserted that the sections vetoed by the Mayor were not “line items” subject to veto by the Mayor. In his veto of these sections, the Mayor had noted that even if these provisions are not deemed line items subject to veto under Charter § 3-70(e), they were nonetheless null and void because they were in violation of the Charter and the separation of powers set forth in the Charter, and as such were void from the very start.

“For this reason, I reserve the right to use executive discretion in allocating and applying appropriated funds in 2015, using as my guide the approved budget, the best interests of our community’s safety and welfare, as well as the most effective administration of our City executive duties and responsibilities. In doing so, I will consider the vetoed portion of Section 1 and all of Section 3 of the Ordinance to be void and unlawful, notwithstanding the veto override as to the second sentence of Section,” said Mayor Bach in his Dec. 9 letter to Council.

The Mayor’s full letter to City Council is attached.  2015 Annual Appropriation