Saturday, June 16, 2007
Mayor Nixes Council Pay Raise Action
By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
Mayor Martin Chávez on Friday vetoed City Council legislation aimed at increasing the pay of councilors and making it harder to get rid of them through the recall process.
His vetoes set the stage for a possible override debate during the council meeting Monday night.
Both measures would have been sent to voters for approval in the October municipal election.
The pay-raise legislation, if approved by voters in October, would have given councilors the annual salary the Legislature allows for Bernalillo County commissioners currently about $29,600. Right now, councilors get slightly less than $10,000.
Chávez, in his veto message, said Albuquerque voters rejected pay raises for city councilors in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2004.
He also mentioned that councilors had recently voted to delay a tax cut for six months.
"The City Council recently refused tax relief to working families and increased its own budget by 38 percent. I believe it virtually certain that residents will respond by refusing to raise the salaries of the City Council. Hence, the measure is an unwise utilization of taxpayer money," he said.
The other measure, if approved by voters, would have established new rules for the recall process while significantly increasing the number of petition signatures that would be needed to get a proposed recall on the ballot.
Under the new rules, a recall would stem from misconduct. Currently, a recall can be launched for any reason, not simply for misconduct.
Chávez, in his veto message, said no official of Albuquerque has ever been recalled. Making the process even more difficult "is unwise public policy which will further remove elected officials from the desires of their constituents," he said.
He said the new procedures would be so stringent that the measure "effectively takes away the voter's right to recall."