2017-10-11 / Front Page

Delphi Mayor explains line item vetoes

Believes relationship with City Council is working
By Debbie Lowe
Staff writer

Delphi City Council members approved a 2018 spending plan Oct. 3 which included reductions in some line items from what was submitted by Delphi Mayor Shane Evans for approval. Ultimately, Evans vetoed several of the line items in the City Council-adopted budget, which he states if the City Council does not override the vetoes, will reestablish the 2017 funding for the line items in question.

Evans, in a written statement to City Council members, President Carolyn Pearson, Dick Traeger, Dale Seward, Brian Garrison and Mike Shockley, stated he vetoed the appropriation for a code enforcer. A majority of the City Council voted to reduce Evan’s request from $20,000 to $2,500.

“It is clear from the action to reduce funding for this line item that those Councilors do not intend to work to amend the Code of Ordinances for the City of Delphi,” Evans wrote. “Through countless hours of research, the Council has been provided with a 40- page document titled, ‘What’s Different? A Compilation and Comparison of the City of Delphi’s Building Regulations and Ten Other Indiana Municipalities.” After receiving the document, the Council stated it had not had adequate time to review the document and that the document has not been revisited since that time.”

Mayor Evans told the Comet in an Oct. 6 interview, if the Council wants to discuss changes, he will talk to them. He said he expected the Council to initiate the discussion although he had earlier agreed to provide a compromise plan at the May 2017 meeting. He said he plans to hire someone to enforce the code, which he termed the “unsafe building code.”

“Those Councilors who voted to repeal the building regulations on first reading (Pearson, Seward and Shockley) under the auspices that they would work to amend the ordinance to better fit the needs and desires of the citizens of the City of Delphi, have acted in a manner consistent only with an attempt to prohibit building regulations from being enforced in the City of Delphi by reducing the line item to $2,500.”

“I veto this line item reduction, which should reinstate the 2017 appropriation of $35,000,” Evans wrote.

A majority of the City Council reduced the proposed line item for “police cars” from $15,000 to zero Oct. 3.

“I believe this reduction was made in a childish attempt to punish and send a message to the Board of Public Works and Safety while all this reduction does is throw off the budgeting for the police car rotation schedule, reduces the amount the City of Delphi will receive for a trade-in and can lead to officers in the City of Delphi driving vehicles beyond the lifespan recommended by the Mayor after reading those recommendations of the State of Indiana,” Evans wrote. “I veto this line item which should reinstate the 2017 appropriation of $20,000.”

Evans told the Comet Friday, the City owns four po- lice cars and at least one additional vehicle. He said the City employs seven fulltime police officers, including Mullin. He said he does not know how many parttime officers are employed by the City of Delphi. Mullin advised the City Council there are two officers on duty each day shift and one officer on duty at night.

The September 2017 activity report issued by Police Chief Steve Mullin indicated police officers drove a total of 4,841 miles, issued six citations and two warnings. Fifteen parking tickets were issued in September and 10 crashes along with 27 incidents were reported during that time frame. Evans said he did not know if police officers respond to every incident called into central dispatch.

The Mayor said during the Comet interview last Friday, officers are enforcing the heavy-truck ban on East Main St. as well as the ordinance prohibiting junk vehicles. When the majority of the City Council voted to approve the 2018 spending plan, at least three officers stood in the back of the room, with Mullin, all in uniform. Evans said the officers were interested in the outcome of the budget vote and he found nothing wrong with paying them to attend a portion of the meeting. He also advised he did not consider their presence to be a measure to intimidate or sway the City Council members in their vote.

Mayor Evans said he did not believe he has a broken relationship with three City Council members, specifically President Pearson, Seward and Shockley.

“We still move forward and get some things done,” he said. “‘Broken’ indicates we cannot get things accomplished.”

City Council President Pearson does not agree with the Mayor about the issue of a broken relationship. She said she believes the relationship is damaged.

“Yes, I fear the relationship between the Mayor and the City Council is a fractured one, but not one that cannot be repaired,” she told the Comet Oct. 9. “The Mayor’s responsibility to the office is to efficiently run the city services.”

“The City Council, a duly elected body, is charged with passing ordinances to safely enhance living within the City and also charged with the task of approving an adequate annual spending plan in the form of a budget to fund the necessary services for Delphi residents,” Pearson continued. “Neither the Mayor nor the City Council should pair with a department to fund a department’s wish-list. That is not fair or efficient governing. Staff performances should be evaluated to determine whether to continue to fund programs or not.”

“I was hopeful a compromise after the threat of a line-item veto could be achieved to the benefit of the citizens,” Pearson concluded. “Councilpersons must represent the citizens in a respectful, experienced and responsible manner. The Mayor should do likewise. The two entities should exhibit respectful cooperation, not divisiveness.”

The City Council will meet in special session Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in City Hall for the opportunity to override the line-item veto. Four of the five City Council members must vote to override the vetoes to be effective.

Mayor Evans said an additional topic on the agenda for the meeting will be a presentation about ownership of the old social services building on the east side of Delphi, which is currently owned by the State of Indiana.

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