Sanders, Council Make Deal on Budget Cuts

Veto, override play out on eve of Council turnover

After a budget showdown that went to a veto and override, the Mayor and City Council are on the same page -- for the time being.

The political peace process played out just before half the council is replaced next week. There was urgent deal-making behind closed doors.

Both sides wanted to avoid a re-run of budget cut hearings involving four new council members who take office on Monday. But one of the departing members vented some frustration.

"This is reality.  Property taxes, sales taxes are down -- all over the country," said Councilman Jim Madaffer during a special Council hearing Friday.   "You should see what they did in Atlanta: 22 recreation centers, closed!"

When the council restored money Sanders had cut in a bid to close seven branch libraries, the mayor didn't bother to respond with a veto.

Nor when money that supports nine recreation centers was put back into the budget.

But when the Council rescued six 'customer service centers'  and some maintenance jobs from the budget axe in a back-door move ruled ruled 'ineffective' by the city attorney, the 'Strong Mayor' played the veto card.

Councilwoman Donna Frye began bargaining with the mayor's chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, and worked out a veto override deal that'll keep the service centers going at least through January, after which they'll be  slowly 'transitioned out'.

"This is a temporary reprieve unlesss we want to act on this holistically," Frye said.  "Again, I will offer to work with the mayor and Mr. Goldstone."

Sanders saluted the compromise, adding "We still have some important principles that we put forward.  but we also recongize that we need to work with the Council, and that's what we did."

The newly stocked Council meets Monday for a do-over on the ordinance that puts the midyear budget cuts into play.

Goldstone, meantime, is warning of more cuts if the state takes money -- possibly, up to $35 million -- with no need to pay it back for six years.

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