By a 10-8 vote in October the City Council approved new tax-break guidelines for developers while eliminating the legislative body’s future approval on such deals. Here’s how they voted. City Councilman Ernie Newton, who was not a sitting member for that vote, is asking the City Attorney’s Office for guidance on the process to repeal the council’s action.
Newton and council district partner Eneida Martinez, who was absent for the October vote, have submitted a resolution to the Ordinance Committee to reverse “Municipal Code Tax Incentive Development Program.”
The resolution states the “City Council improperly delegated its legislative responsibilities for protecting this city’s tax payers to the executive branch.”
The resolution calls on the City Attorney to “provide the City Council with guidance on the process it needs to go through to reverse or repeal the most recent amendments … including the drafting of any language in the format necessary to reverse or repeal the changes made.”
City officials say the ordinance approved by the council in October streamlines the process and ground rules to approve tax incentives to make the city more attractive for developers. The proposal was advanced by the city’s planning and development office.
Many of the council members who voted for the ordinance in October were either defeated in September primaries or did not seek reelection, replaced by insurgents who promised an independent check on the executive branch. And that includes restoring power that has been stripped or enforcing charter provisions that empower the legislative branch.
This would be a difficult ordinance to reverse given the mayor’s veto power if the new council could muster enough support for a majority vote. Still, Newton argues, this is all about reminding the executive branch that council members will not be puppets. Since his return to the City Council that jump-started his political career in 1981, Newton has submitted a series of resolutions to hammer home his point.