Council president accuses mayor of excluding council

2012-06-18T19:00:00Z 2012-10-31T17:53:10Z Council president accuses mayor of excluding councilBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | City Council President Sue Lynch believes it's one of the council's duties to vote on matters regarding the city's finances.

She also believes Mayor James Snyder is trying to sidestep the council, preventing it from fulfilling its duties.

Snyder said Monday that Lynch is putting politics over what's best for the city.

At issue is a contract with Portage Firefighters Local 3151, approved in April by the Board of Works, but never brought before the council for approval.

Lynch said the contract should have been brought before the council for approval because it brought about a monetary change in the employees' benefits package. Lynch said she sought the opinions of the State Board of Accounts and the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns before making her concern public. She is putting it on the council's July 3 agenda for consideration.

Lynch said she has the backing of the majority of the council.

"The council should put the contract on their agenda as they will have to appropriate nearly 35K ($35,000) in funds to cover the contract this year," Snyder wrote in a statement, adding his administration had found the funds to cover the cost of the contract within the budget.

The issue of the firefighters contract comes after the council approved an ordinance at its June meeting, on a 5-2 vote, that would require council presence during contract negotiations. Snyder has said he will veto the ordinance.

Lynch said the mayor's recent actions is one reason the council approved the ordinance.

"The mayor doesn't think we should be in negotiations. I was involved in negotiations before this mayor. I think it is good to be involved," she said.

"The notion that I do not want the council to be involved in union negotiations is simply ludicrous and Council President Lynch knows this. We as politicians should not be in the room, and we will not be in the room, and press releases like this further strengthen my point," said Snyder, adding the City Council has never before approved a union contract.

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