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Springs mayor, city attorney respond to complaints from council

By Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:16:23 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 08 2013 11:02:29 AM CDT

The Mayor Steve Bach and City Attorney Chris Melcher are responding after complaints from city council about a lack of communication.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Mayor Steve Bach unveiled his 2014 budget Monday, thanking all of his staff for working so hard on it. But one key group of city leaders didn't even get to see the budget plan before it was presented to the media: city council.

"We have no idea what the budget is going to look like," said council member Jan Martin on Sunday night.

Council members said the mayor refused their attempts to meet with him to talk about the budget.

"I wish we could be involved earlier on," said council member Jill Gaebler.  "I think it prevents disagreements moving forward."

KRDO asked Mayor Bach about his opting not to involve council.

"That's the charter," said Bach. "And I'm just going to tell you that I'm going to defend the charter, I'm going to support the charter and I'm also going to work collaboratively with city council."

The charter doesn't require the mayor to meet with council about the budget. City council does need to approve the budget, and can make changes to some areas. City attorney Chris Melcher says council is restricted to amending "high level items, and they need to defer to the mayor in terms of how the mayor administers the budget." So council could change the overall amount of money allocated to the police department, but could not decide how many police officers are hired or vehicles purchased.

The mayor's office and city council have seemingly been at odds for months. Council has complained about a lack of communication and that Melcher is neglecting them and giving them politically biased opinions.

"We would terminate your service to us because it's been so poor," said council president Keith King to Melcher at the Sept. 24 council meeting.

At that council meeting, council voted to cut Melcher's salary and hire outside counsel to consult with on the stormwater issue. Council accused Melcher of siding with the mayor and not giving them the legal help they need to make decisions.

"I believe we have a very good working relationship with council," Melcher said Monday.

He said his office is doing everything right and abiding by the city charter: supporting both the mayor and council even when they're at odds.

"To our knowledge, every opinion, every question council has asked, our office has provided in a prompt, professional manner, said Melcher.

When asked about council's accusations toward him, he blamed it on members frustration that they have drastically fewer responsibilities under the strong-mayor form of government.

"I think for them, some of them, it's a challenge to adjust to their role and stay focused on that role, and to allow the executive branch to manage the city," Melcher said.

Bach said he also feels he has "a very good working relationship" with council.

When we asked about the obvious troubles between the executive and legislative branches he denied they were there.

"I'm sorry you see the world that way. I don't," Bach said.

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