The City Council today approved a spending plan that closes an $83 million budget gap through a mix of cuts to worker compensation, tapping reserves and hiking fees.

However, the legislative body restored cuts to its own offices included as part of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ proposed spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Those cuts — roughly $32,000 for each of the eight council offices — were included in the mayor’s revised budget to reflect a 6 percent cut in compensation after similar cuts were approved for other city workers.

But Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who made the suggestion, said those funds were essential for council members to act as a check on the mayor and perform their duties. Emerald first proposed that the money instead be taken from the mayor’s legislative and community services division, prompting an objection from the mayor’s chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone.

When that motion failed, the City Council instead agreed that the money could instead come from individual council offices’ infrastructure funds or reserves meant for unanticipated costs, such as increasing police and fire academies if needed to replace retiring workers. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner and Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio voted against the measure.

Council members have offered mixed responses to whether they will cut their compensation — and that of their staffers — by 6 percent. They said today that individual council members still have the opportunity to make those cuts and return the savings to the city.

The budget passed today does not reflect another massive shortfall that could become a reality if the state takes as much as $72 million from city coffers to balance its own budget. “While we are at the end of this process, the new process will have to start right away,” Faulconer said.

DeMaio voted against the budget, saying it didn’t account for the probable state action and he opposed the use of increased fees and reserve money.

The mayor has until June 16 to veto the budget.


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