If nothing else, this year's city budget wars have slipped the word "veto" into Palmer DePaulis' mayoral vocabulary.

DePaulis sent a message to the City Council Wednesday that he will veto major changes to his proposed $79.4 million general-fund budget that he believes aren't in the best interest of the city. Speaking on behalf of the mayor, Mike Zuhl, DePaulis' chief of staff, targeted several possible budget cuts already discussed by some council members.DePaulis promised to wield his line-item veto power, if a majority of the council approves a budget that includes any of the following financial maneuvers: a reduction of the city's $4-per-month garbage fee; additional across-the-board cuts to city departments; levying charges to the city's enterprise funds for police and fire protection; and any deeper cuts than those already identified by the council's staff.

Zuhl said the mayor is "troubled" and could veto other cuts the council has discussed, such as eliminating a secretarial position from the city's Local Business Advocacy office; eliminating an internal auditor from the Finance Department, and a reduction in the car allowances of city employees.

"Why don't we just disband the council?" asked Councilman Wayne Horrocks after he heard the mayor's list.

Councilwoman Florence Bittner said she wouldn't be swayed by threats. "The mayor is, in essence, dictating to us. I will not be dictated to.

"We have to do what we feel we have to do. And then the mayor does his thing."

Horrocks agreed. "We don't operate at the whim of the mayor."