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Council mulls four ballot proposals



Voters might be asked in April to increase City Council pay, amend the Trails, Open Space and Parks tax measure to allow a greater share for parks maintenance, put Council in charge of Springs Utilities contracts, and make the city attorney an elective office.

Councilors on Monday asked City Attorney Chris Melcher to bring language for all four measures to the Jan. 22 Council meeting. There they will accept public comment on the measures and decide whether to refer any of them to the ballot for the April 2 city election.

The pay proposal calls for Councilors to be paid 40 percent of the mayor's $96,000 annual salary, or $38,400. They're now paid $6,250 a year, which advocates say discourages anyone from running who isn't retired, independently wealthy or supported by spousal income.

"Right now, the vast majority of people can't serve because of the compensation," says Independent publisher John Weiss, who's backing the measure.

Voters have rejected increases in Council pay three times in the past 20 years.

The city attorney and Utilities measures are proposed by Kanda Calef, a homemaker and political activist. She's been labeled a lobbyist by Councilor Tim Leigh and Mayor Steve Bach. Saying that designation is inaccurate, Calef told Leigh on Monday, "I'm insulted that I'm not able to hold my Council and my mayor accountable without false statements being made against me."

Calef argues the city attorney finds himself with conflicting interests when serving the mayor, who appoints him and can fire him, and Council, whose legal interests might differ from the mayor's. She also wants Council to have authority over all Utilities contracts. When the city Charter was rewritten in 2010, the mayor was given authority over all city contracts, although he has no other power over Utilities.

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