Mayor Jerry Sanders’ threat to ask voters to repeal the City Council’s decision to rein in budget authority was met with a shrug of the shoulders from Council President Scott Peters.

Peters said the mayor’s warning was a “hollow threat” because the city’s municipal code prevents such a referendum from occurring. He said the council amended the appropriations ordinance, which governs how the budget is disbursed throughout the fiscal year. That ordinance is protected from a referendum, he said. Peters points to a section of the code that states:

Any legislative act, except acts making the annual tax levy, making the annual appropriations, calling or relating to elections, or relating to emergency measures, shall be subject to the referendum process.

Sanders said in an interview afterward that he did not know the specifics of the referendum process, but his spokesman, Fred Sainz, said that he didn’t think the section of the city code Peters was referring to applied. Sainz agreed the appropriations ordinance should never be repealed because removing it would essentially shut down the city because employees and bills would never get paid. But he argued that the council’s decision Monday injected policy that strays from the intent of the required ordinance.

City Attorney Mike Aguirre said he would issue an opinion only if a city official asked for an answer to the dispute.


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