Did Dyster’s veto of council health insurance resolution exceed mayor’s powers?

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster recently vetoed a council resolution that would have ended free health insurance for all future council members. However, did the mayor violate the separation of council and mayor powers by issuing that veto?

Informed sources have shared their thoughts on this matter with the Reporter.  It does appear that it could be fairly interpreted that the mayor has indeed stepped beyond his powers as mayor when he put pen to paper and struck down the council resolution, a resolution that passed 3-2 several weeks ago. That now moribund resolution is presently on the February 8 council agenda as it awaits an override vote. The measure would require a super majority of four council votes in order to defeat Dyster’s veto. That’s a heavy lift in light of the fact that it barely passed the first time around with Touma and Grandinetti lining up with resolution sponsor Ken Tompkins.

Veto override aside there’s a larger issue in question here: Did Dyster illegally issue that veto? Historically, and by charter interpretation, the mayor can veto legislation dealing with ordinances, city laws and budget matters. This cost cutting elimination of health insurance for council members can be judged as having nothing to do with any of these three categories. The resolution is essentially council business within council powers and can be viewed as off limits to the mayor and beyond the reach of his veto pen.

The Reporter recommends that resolution sponsor Ken Tompkins seek a legal opinion on the question of mayor powers versus council powers from an attorney outside of city hall specializing in governmental matters. To seek the opinion from the mayor’s corporation counsel would be a fool’s errand and a disservice to the residents the councilman represents.

Finally, if the mayor is judged to have the powers to veto this resolution then there is nothing to stop him from vetoing virtually any measure taken by the council in the future. The question of separation of executive (mayor) and legislative (council) powers should be thoroughly answered as quickly as possible.

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