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Willmar city budget passes but mayor refuses to sign in protest

WILLMAR — Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish has decided to not sign — rather than veto — the City Council-approved resolution adopting the 2014 city budget. As a result, according to City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday, the resolution passes unsigned.

Yanish told the Tribune on Friday afternoon that his lack of signature is a protest of the council’s decision to restore $228,000 in cuts that Yanish proposed in his 2014 budget.

The cuts would have come from staff travel, training and membership dues.

All week Yanish considered the possibility of a veto, “but I find that having eight council people voting in favor of (the resolution), I otherwise would have vetoed it. But my choice to veto it would be limited as to what I could accomplish that way.’’

Instead, Yanish says he withheld his signature as a protest for the council reinstating the cuts in those areas.

Yanish said he began considering the veto idea after the council approved the budget resolution Monday night. Yanish said he was almost certain he could veto it, but he asked Halliday to be sure.

The budget resolution was among a handful of resolutions that Halliday had given to Yanish to sign after the council adjourned. Yanish signed the other resolutions but took the budget resolution home with him unsigned.

The city charter gives the mayor four days after receiving a resolution to return it to the clerk with approval or with veto. If the mayor does not return the resolution within four days after receipt or returns it without a veto, it shall be considered approved.

If the resolution is vetoed, the mayor is required to attach a written statement explaining the reason for the veto.

Yanish returned the resolution unsigned to Halliday about two hours before the 4:30 p.m. Friday deadline, and Halliday told the Tribune the resolution passes.

Halliday said that if Yanish had vetoed the resolution, the budget would have been placed on the council’s Dec. 16 agenda because a budget is required. The charter requires a super majority of six of the eight council members to override the mayor’s veto.

Yanish said the situation was extraordinary because the council restored everything that he wanted to cut.

“In my campaign when I ran for public office and was elected overwhelmingly I should say that I had promised that I would do some cutting, and this is where I started because the labor situation is all union contracts and I can’t mess with those,’’ he said.

Halliday said in his 27 years at Willmar that he could not remember a mayor vetoing a budget.

This was not the first time that Yanish withheld his signature from a council-approved resolution. Last April, Yanish withheld — but later signed — a resolution of support for Torgerson Properties’ request for a 10-year property tax abatement of just under $190,000 for its $12 million hotel and conference center renovation.

Yanish had said he would withhold his signature until a council committee developed a tax abatement policy. He later signed the resolution April 19 after he saw that discussion of such a policy was on a committee agenda.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150