City of Delafield – There will be at least a three-week delay on a vote by the common council on whether to override a historic veto by Mayor Michele DeYoe of an $850 waiver to the American Legion granted by the council earlier this month.
So far, no one at city hall, including three former mayors whose tenures date back to the 1980s, has been able to recall whether a mayor has, since the city was incorporated in 1958, attempted to veto action by a common council.
During the council’s Oct. 3 meeting, Alderman Kent Attwell asked the council to waive the $850 in fees American Legion Post 196 had been required to pay to obtain a conditional-use permit to build two additions onto the existing legion post.
In an interview with the Lake Country Reporter, City Planner Roger Dupler explained that the fees were authorized by city code to pay for the costs incurred by city staff and consultants in the preparation of the permit and conducting of public hearings, plan commission and common council meetings relating to those permits.
He said the fees for the permit can vary, depending upon the scope and complexity of the project. He said the legion signed a contractual agreement to pay the fees.
Attwell argued that the legion's fees should be waived because the legion is a “unique” not-for-profit organization, founded before the city was incorporated, and had provided decades of service to the city in providing and promoting community activities.
Legion member Glenn Ritz asked the council to approve the waiver. He said legion officials were not aware of the cost of the permit, and the organization operates on a tight budget.
Ritz said a delegation of legion members would have attended the meeting but were unable to do so because they were attending a meeting at which the legion was being presented with an award for its service to the community.
Attwell’s motion to waive the $850 fee was approved by a 4-2 vote.
In her veto message, DeYoe said the fees were authorized by the city code and apply to “all residents of the city and all organizations within the city,” regardless of whether they are for-profit businesses or nonprofit organizations.
She said the veto was necessary because “the action of the common council creates issues and concerns regarding uniform enforcement and application of our municipal code.”
She added during the council meeting that she had an obligation to veto the motion because one of her primary duties as mayor was to enforce the city code.
She said she was also concerned about the precedent that is set by the council vote.
State law grants mayors the authority to veto council actions. However, the council can override the vote with a two-thirds vote “of all of the members of the council.”
The law is not clear whether the two-thirds vote applies to the overall number of council members, or all the council members at the meeting and voting.
Six of the seven council members attended the Oct. 17 meeting. Alderman Chris Smith was absent.
DeYoe said she tried unsuccessfully to reach city attorney Jim Hammes before the meeting for his opinion as whether the override effort would require four or five votes.
She said she expects to have an opinion from him by the Nov. 7 meeting, and the council agreed to delay the vote until then.
Although she will not be at that meeting, she anticipates Smith will be able to attend, and Council President Tim Aicher will preside.
So far, an override appears problematic since Attwell and Alderwoman Jackie Valde were the only members at the meeting who clearly expressed they would vote to override.
Alderman Jim Behrend indicated he has not decided on the issue.
No history of veto
Behrend served as mayor from 1989-94 and said before the meeting he did not attempt any vetoes while he was mayor.
Ed McAleer, who was mayor from 1994 to 2002 and 2008-14, said he did not attempt any vetoes.
McAleer said that one his predecessor, Robert Savrnoch, who served from 1983-88, also did not attempt any vetoes.