Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis made good Friday on his threat to veto the $80 million budget passed by City Council members earlier this week, accusing them of ignoring personnel and city services by approving across-the-board cuts rather than targeting individual programs.
He punctuated that veto with another, which freezes an ordinance council members approved Thursday to reduce garbage collection fees effective Jan. 1, 1989.In a letter delivered to the council Friday afternoon, DePaulis said the principal reason for his budget veto was the $419,846 council members agreed to take from all city services.
"I have deep concerns that if these reductions are allowed to go into effect, they would result in the reduction of a number of public safety and other city positions and would further erode the budget and restrict our ability to provide necessary public services," he wrote.
Since proposing his own version of the budget in early May, the mayor has been taking heat from angry police and firefighters. Cuts DePaulis proposed included $600,000 and 61/2 positions from the police department, and $350,000 plus 10 employees from the fire department.
He's also heard from east-side residents who don't like his recommendation that a fire station there be closed until a new consolidated fire station can be constructed.
Even as secretaries were typing the letter to the council, police pickets carried signs outside city hall asking why DePaulis favors cuts in their department.
In his letter to the council, DePaulis also indicated his displeasure with reductions in other areas, including: elimination of funding for a secretary for the Office of Local Business Advocacy and for an internal auditor in the finance department, deep reductions in city travel budgets, and a 25 percent cut in the amount provided for car allowances for certain employees.
He also cited City Attorney Roger Cutler's opinion that across-the-board cuts "may be constitutionally prohibitive, which could lead to litigation between this administration and the council over the issue of separation of powers." Cutler said he believes the council may be illegally delegating its responsibility to the mayor by not telling him where to make the cuts.
The veto throws the council's $79,648,000 budget out of balance, and council members have planned emergency meetings Sunday and Monday to deal with the issue. The group must approve a fiscal 1988-89 budget by Wednesday to comply with state law.
In a second letter to council members, DePaulis said the council's decision to reduce garbage collection fees and cut $270,000 from the garbage enterprise fund is not acceptable because it will create a funding deficit of $540,000 for the 1989-90 fiscal year budget.
He said the fee reductions are "contrary to policy direction established by the council last year," and "may very likely lead to a property tax increase."