The strong-mayor form of government approved by voters in 2004 isn’t working as voters intended it because of unilateral budget decisions made by Mayor Jerry Sanders, said the council’s independent budget analyst in a memo this week.

“In my professional opinion, this government is not working as the voters envisioned when they passed Proposition F in that the appropriate checks and balances with regard to the budget are not occurring,” wrote IBA Andrea Tevlin in a memo to City Attorney Mike Aguirre in a memo dated yesterday.

Tevlin cited two recent budget cuts made unilaterally by Sanders’ office without council approval as “one small example of this.” Last week, tempers flared when the City Council heard that the mayor had cut a children’s swimming program and a program for the homeless without consulting the council or holding public workshops.

The mayor maintains he has such authority; the council and IBA say the budget is approved and finalized by the council and any changes must go through them.

The polemic has emerged as one of the first and strongest tensions between the mayor and council created by the new form of government that went into effect on Jan. 1 and since Sanders took office in December.

The memo continues:

The decision to eliminate an existing budgeted program for kids was not made in a public forum and reasons and options were never vetted for public or legislative consideration.

The Mayor repeatedly represented throughout the FY 07 budget development process that he was proposing no service cuts in his budget and specifically stated that his budget included “No Budget Cuts to Parks” in budget discussions, reports and press releases.

Read the full memo here.


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