Council overrides mayoral vetoes

2012-07-03T21:14:00Z 2012-07-05T00:51:08Z Council overrides mayoral vetoesBy Joyce Russell, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222

PORTAGE | The Portage City Council overrode two mayoral vetoes Tuesday night.

Council members voted 5-2 on a split, party-line vote to override a veto signed by Mayor James Snyder regarding the council's role in collective bargaining.

They also unanimously overrode Snyder's pocket veto of an ordinance raising ambulance fees.

Councilman Ted Uzelac said he was ready to override the veto of the collective bargaining ordinance until just before the meeting when he received a copy of a legal opinion from the Indianapolis law firm of Barnes & Thornburg saying the council's ordinance was unconstitutional because of a separation of powers issue.

The council passed the ordinance at its June meeting requiring council presence at collective bargaining sessions. It was approved then on the same 5-2 vote.

Councilman Matt Scheuer, who sponsored the ordinance, said he did not believe the legal opinion looked at the ordinance with the council's goal in mind.

"Our goal is to be a silent partner in negotiations," said Scheuer, adding that several communities, including Michigan City and Whiting, have similar language in their code.

Snyder said after the meeting he is unsure of his next step.

Also last month, the council approved increasing ambulance fees. Snyder vetoed the ordinance saying then he felt the funds raised through the increase should be dedicated to the Fire Department.

To address that issue, the council also considered an amended ordinance Tuesday that would have directed all fee increases to a fund dedicated to firefighters. It also proposed annual 3 percent increases in the fees.

The ordinance stalled Tuesday when Scheuer voted against suspending the rules allowing the ordinance to be passed on first reading. The ordinance will come before the council again at next month's meeting for a second reading.

Scheuer said he voted against suspending the rules because the ordinance had not been vetted through either the ordinance or ways and means committee.

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