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The City Council this week will decide the council/mayor role in controlling the annual budget, how the city regains access to the financial markets and the best way to empanel a committee to oversee the revenue generated by the upcoming round of water and sewer fee increases.

This morning, the council’s Audit Committee is meeting with auditors for KPMG, which finished its certification of the city’s 2003 audit Friday, but noted that some additional cleanup work must be performed before their work is complete. The committee will also be updated on the work Macias Gini & O’Connell is conducting to complete the subsequent 2004, 2005 and 2006 audits. City officials say at least 2004 and 2005 need to be completed before the city can return to the public bond markets, where borrowing for municipal needs is cheaper.

The Audit Committee will also discuss with Mayor Jerry Sanders’ staff the process for hiring a new internal auditor, since John Torell left the post earlier this year amid his disagreement with Sanders over the level of independence afforded to the watchdog position. The panel will also question the mayor about the lack of staff working on day-to-day oversight of city management.

On Monday afternoon, the council will decide how to balance the authority of managing the budget between the mayor and council. The mayor wants the ability to trim spending during the middle of the year with minimal input by the City Council, while several council members want more control over the budget they approve every year. The council decided Feb. 5 to force the mayor to seek the council’s permission every time a budget cut “materially and substantially” impacts a service the city provides, but some council members and Sanders want to set more specific guidelines that also afford the mayor more leeway.

Tuesday’s meeting will likely include the establishment of an Independent Rates Oversight Committee to ensure that the funds raised by the recent increase in water and sewer fees is spent appropriately. Also, the council will hear environmentalists’ appeals against 18 proposed condo conversions Tuesday. The activists want the city to study the effects condo conversions have on the surrounding community before approving anymore, but the council so far has rejected their requests.

On Wednesday, Sanders will discuss with council’s rules committee a long-term strategy for managing the city.

Check back later to see how this news plays out.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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