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A majority of the $176,000 that Councilman Jim Madaffer spent above his office’s budget is the result of added salary and fringe benefit costs, according to the Auditor’s Office.

We’re awaiting a call for an explanation for the deficit, which would be a 21-percent overrun on the council office’s $850,000 budget.

An official in the auditor’s office said it was his understanding that a portion of the deficit was caused by the creation of a new position in the councilman’s office.

Last year Madaffer hired former Mayor Dick Murphy’s former press secretary, Colleen Windsor, to head up the newly created Grantville redevelopment zone. (Grantville falls in Madaffer’s District 7.) At the time, there were questions about how the hiring was authorized and where the money would come from for Winsdor’s $88,000 a year salary and the related benefits.

(CityBeat, a local alternative weekly, broke the story.)

CityBeat reported that Windsor’s salary would be paid for through the extra tax money that is funneled to the city when it creates a redevelopment zone. But the county has challenged the city’s creation of the redevelopment zone and the suit is pending.

Councilwoman Donna Frye is quoted in the article as saying: “I don’t really see how an individual council member can allocate redevelopment funds. I don’t understand how people can just add staff without some sort of a council action unless it is within his council budget …”

We’re still trying to get Madaffer or his chief of staff on the phone today.

A majority – $120,000 – of the funds that are slated to cover the deficit would be taken from the district’s infrastructure fund. That’s a discretionary fund that each council district uses to cover such things as potholes and playgrounds and other infrastructure costs.

John Pilch, a District 7 activist, said this: “We’re going to request a full and detailed response to the questions why and how this happened.”

ANDREW DONOHUE

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