The Pensacola City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to override Mayor Ashton Hayward’s veto of the hiring of a budget analyst at a special meeting Monday at the Hagler Mason Conference Room.
Council President Brian Spencer and members Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Sherri Myers and P.C. Wu all spoke in favor of the override.
The city voted March 9 to hire a budget analyst. Hayward then issued a veto on March 14 saying in part in a letter, “There are more pressing needs within the City of Pensacola that would directly benefit the taxpayers.”
District 2 Councilwoman Sherri Myers took issue with the veto because voters passed an amendment to the city charter in 2014 allowing the position independent of the mayor.
“I support the override,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do for the citizens of Pensacola.”
There was no public comment on the issue. But Cannada-Wynn, who represents District 7, said letting the veto stand would have the effect of giving the mayor power over whom the council hires.
“We need a budget analyst for council to exercise our power as the legislative branch,” she said. “I do think (the veto) is interference by the mayor. The charter allows us to have an independent staff.”
P.C. Wu added, “It’s the right thing to do.”
Spencer said his reaction to the mayor’s veto was “less dramatic” than the other council members stated. He said it was necessary to have informed budget conversations with the mayor’s office.
“I see this as moderate turbulence, not being in an aircraft in a tailspin,” he said. “In the long run for Mayor Hayward or future mayors, this will be better for our city in the future.”
The council will reaffirm its vote in the consent agenda at Thursday’s regular meeting because Pensacola City Attorney Lysia Bowling disagreed with Spencer and said the vote should be held then, not in a special meeting.
“There is ambiguity,” she said.
At 7 p.m. last night, Mayor Hayward, who did not attend the meeting, issued a statement accepting the override:
“I completely respect Council’s decision to override my veto of hiring a budget analyst.
The purpose of the veto was to underscore my objection to what I thought was an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers.
Our team has always worked well with city council on all legislative issues, and I expect that to continue.”