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Saying he has no other choice because San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre has yet to rule on the legality of City Council’s most recent budget vote, Mayor Jerry Sanders just vetoed council’s budget resolution from last week that saved libraries and recreation centers from the budget ax.

This means that City Council President Scott Peters will have to give notice Thursday for an override vote by the current council on Friday, or it will become one of the first orders of business for the new council, which is due to be sworn in on Monday. A successful override by the current council would be likely given that last week’s vote was 7-1, and all council needs for an override is five votes.

Peters did not return calls seeking comment on whether he would docket an override vote for Friday.

All of this started on Nov. 24 when council approved a budget resolution calling for $37.3 million of the $43 million in cuts Sanders had proposed to close the city’s midyear budget gap. Council did not go along with the mayor’s proposal to cut seven libraries, nine recreation centers and two fire crews from the city’s daily rotation.

Although furious with the council’s action, Sanders said he would not issue a veto because it would almost assuredly be overridden. But then on Monday council added six community service centers and three painter positions in the facilities department — at a total cost of $600,000 — to the list of items it wouldn’t cut.

On Monday evening Sanders declared that the second vote violated the city charter because it brought a substantial change to an appropriations ordinance that had already been voted on as a budget resolution — the substantial change being $600,000 added back into the budget.

Since, Sanders has been waiting for Aguirre’s office to issue an opinion on the vote. And though the City Attorney’s Office has informed the mayor verbally that the council votes to add the community service centers and painters were illegal, it has not issued a written opinion. And today was the deadline for Sanders to either sign or veto the budget resolution. Without a written opinion, he decided to veto.

“We have consistently said that the city attorney fails to provide timely legal advice,” said mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing. “And this is his swan song example.”

Aguirre did not return call’s seeking comment. His spokeswoman, Maria Velasquez, said deputy city attorneys have been consistently working on the issue for the past two days. “They are doing their due diligence,” she said.

DAVID WASHBURN

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