Colorado

Jul 13, 2010 6:40 PM by Zach Thaxton

Douglas Bruce: Co. Springs Mayor Needs More Power, Huge Raise

Douglas Bruce thinks the Colorado Springs mayor should be paid more.  Much more.  Around $84,000 more.  No joke.

It's true: Colorado's best-known advocate for fiscal responsiblity and a long-time thorn in city government's side wants to increase the mayor's salary to $90,000 per year, up from the current salary of slightly more than $6,000 per year.

Yes, there's a catch.  Much of the city administrative staff would be eliminated.

Bruce filed paperwork Tuesday to reform and streamline the City Charter.  The proposal would give the mayor full administrative and veto authority over Colorado Springs government.  The positions of city manager, assistant city manager, chief financial officer, economic development director and manager, and community development director would be eliminated, according to language of the proposed amendment.  The City's public communications division would also be eliminated.  The mayor would assume the duties and responsibilities of all the eliminated positions.  2,000 words in the current City Charter would also be repealed.

"This is what I call The New Austerity," Bruce told News First 5.  "We need to have a mayor that is going to take charge.  I hope that once this is on the ballot, it will attract some experienced executive or somebody.  They aren't going to do all that work full-time for $6,000 a year, but $90,000 is the same salary that we pay the governor."  Bruce insists he has no intention of running for mayor himself.

The mayor wouldn't be the only member of city government to receive a handsome pay raise.  City Council members would get a 140% pay hike.  "So, despite all the battles I have with City Council, I want you to note that their salaries would go up from just over $6,000 to $15,000 per year," Bruce said.  City Council would also shrink from 9 members to 7, with each councilmember representing a district of around 58,000 people.  Bruce says the idea is to make councilmembers more accountable to the districts they represent.  If the mayor were to issue a veto, overrides would require a vote from 6 of the 7 councilmembers.

Overall, Bruce estimates his charter overhaul proposal could save the city millions.  "We have a lot of positions - over $2 million worth of salary - that, in the first paragraph, will be eliminated and replaced by the mayor," he said.  The entire amendment is contingent on a "strong mayor" ballot proposal earning enough petition signatures by August 1 in order to make the November ballot, followed by passage of the "strong mayor" proposal in the November general election.  A new mayor would be elected in April 2011.

Below is the full text of Douglas Bruce's proposed amendment to the City Charter.

Be it Enacted by the People of the City of Colorado Springs:

Section 1.    ARTICLE XVI.  DUTIES AND ACCOUNTABILITY

16-10. The office of mayor shall replace the positions of city manager, assistant city manager, chief financial officer, economic development director and manager, community development director, and the public communications division.  Legal references to "city manager" shall now read "mayor."  The mayor may also veto ordinances, resolutions, appointments, and spending and budget line items within 20 days after council passage; prepay debts, pay claims, impound funds, refund charges, and lower taxes and fees; excuse code violators and penalties; and direct enterprises and authorities.

16-20.  The city shall create seven council districts.  The new council member elected at large with the lowest vote may serve at large only until the 2012 election.  Veto overrides require six member votes within six days after each veto.  Offices of all council districts in November 2012, and mayor in November 2014, shall be filled for four-year terms.  Council and mayoral vacancies shall be filled in elections within 60 days.

16-30.  They mayor shall appoint, and may remove at will, the city attorney, clerk, department heads, enterprise and authority heads, utilities officers, health system executives, and all five judges.  The judges and city attorney require council approval.  Judges shall face retention each general election.  Yearly salaries are: New council member, $15,000; clerk, $60,000; judge, $75,000; and city attorney and mayor, $90,000.  Every third January, these salaries may increase ten percent of their original sums.  Elected official benefits shall be only those required by state or federal law to be city-paid.  The city and its enterprises shall pay no salary, gift, or bonus for any employee suspension, severance, retirement, or rating.  The city shall pay no more than $200,000 yearly for all its private attorneys, and shall provide its enterprises no financial or attorney services.

Section 2.  Charter sections 1-30, 2-10(a) (1), (c), (d), and (e), 3-10(a) and (d), 4-10, 4-20(e), 6-10, 6-40(b), 7-30(c), 7-60, 11-20, 13-20, and 13-90(b); the second and fourth paragraphs of 2-30(a) and the second paragraph of 3-20; the first and last sentences of the first paragraph of 3-20, the first two sentences of 6-40(a), and the last sentence of 13-80; and the words "four" in 2-10(b), "Mayor or" in 2-30(b), 3-30, and 3-40, ", with the Mayor," in 3-70 (e), the first "to the Council" in 4-20, after "Charter in 4-20(i), and "The Mayor and" in 13-10 are repealed.

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