Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis on Friday vetoed a portion of the City Council's appropriation of $3.8 million in federal grant funds.

DePaulis told the council in a budget meeting Tuesday that he probably will veto a plan for spending Community Development Block Grant funds. The mayor's office sent Friday a formal letter confirming that to the council office.In the letter, DePaulis said he is disapproving the line item appropriation of $72,000 to buy the property adjacent to the Police Athletic League, Ninth West and 13th South.

The veto was the first in DePaulis' two years in office and is expected to be something of a dress rehearsal for what might develop into a tough fight with the City Council over adoption of the city's budget.

Council member Tom Godfrey said he was somewhat surprised that the mayor did go ahead and veto the council's appropriation. The council will consider earmarking CDBG funds again May 24, and a 5-2 majority is needed to override a mayoral veto.

Four members of the council - Florence Bittner, Alan Hardman, Wayne Horrocks and Willie Stoler - approved cuts in other programs recommended by the mayor in order to purchase 5.3 vacant acres for expansion and a parking lot at the league.

Council members Godfrey, Sydney Fonnesbeck and Roselyn Kirk were opposed to making cuts at the expense of other beneficial citywide programs.

City budget officials have called the 1988-89 fiscal year budget the tightest ever. The dwindling CDBG funds are the last of what used to be generous federal revenue sharing programs. In tight budget years, the federal grants provide city bosses with the only money pot to tap to speed favored urban improvement projects.

In an extensive review process, applications for the grants are considered by city staff and a volunteer citizen committee before a proposal is made to the mayor. Mayor DePaulis then makes a recommendation to the council.

The substantial changes from De-Paulis' recommendation point to how wide the gap is between the wish lists of city bosses and actual revenues.

Horrocks led the push to cut some funds earmarked for eight programs, including legal costs to administer the federal grant program, in favor of purchasing the land.

Other cuts a majority of the council agreed to reduced by $25,000 the city's contribution to a new women's homeless shelter; cut $3,000 from a security lock program for low-income households; and reduced funding for a program to clean and secure vacant lots by $20,000.

Horrocks originally proposed cuts to equal $135,000, what he said was the cost of the land, but some of his motions didn't win the support of a majority of the council.

DePaulis said he already recommended spending $156,118 from the city's general fund to enhance recreational and programming opportunities for the westside recreation center, designed to help high-risk youths. "I cannot justify an additional appropriation from the CDBG budget in the same year," the mayor said in the letter.

Horrocks argued that the land needed for expansion has three owners, and the city should buy it while it is available. But DePaulis said the land is zoned for residential use and faces little pressure for development.

"The request for land acquisition needs further development and study to be consistent with prior master plans and to determine the entire amount necessary to complete the project," the mayor's letter said.

DePaulis recommended instead that $5,000 be spent to purchase land options, thus tying up the property. The additional money could be put in a contingency fund to ensure that the city receive all of the federal funds, he said.

Rarely have substantial changes been made to the mayor's proposal, said Stephanie Loker of the city's capital planning staff.