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The City Council decided Monday to postpone until March 19 its final OK of a plan that would require Mayor Jerry Sanders to ask the council’s permission to make mid-year budget cuts.

The delay allows the council to choose between a sweeping requirement it initially adopted Feb. 5 and a compromise proposal that Sanders, Council President Scott Peters and Councilman Tony Young brokered last week.

The version of the ordinance the council passed last month would force Sanders to ask the council for the ability to reorganize or cut any department if the move would “materially and substantially” impact the levels of service the city provides. The compromise that Sanders, Peters and Young rolled out last week would allow the mayor to cut up to $4 million or 10 percent of any department’s budget — whichever is less — without the council’s permission.

Councilwoman Donna Frye was the lone vote against postponing the vote, saying that the public needed the oversight more immediately. She also said the initial version would have provided the City Council with a say over the City Auditor & Comptroller’s Office’s decision to sacrifice its internal auditing duties in order to work on the long-outstanding 2003 financial statement audit by KPMG. The compromise version would have allowed the transfer of employees within the department without council oversight, despite its impact on a crucial city function, she said.

Peters said that he didn’t mind if other council members don’t agree with him, but said that because the compromise came just last week, the City Attorney’s Office needed time to draw up the legislation so it could be weighed equally with the other proposal. Peters said he was concerned that the criteria used in the version Frye supported was too broad. “I don’t think yours works,” Peters said.

Frye, in turn, asserted that the proposed compromise “upends the balance between the executive and legislative branches.”


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