The D.C. City Council, jockeying for control of city spending, refused yesterday to consider a compromise with Mayor Marion Barry on legislation that would restrict the mayor's right to shift money from one program to another.
On Sept. 25, the council ignored a personal plea by Barry for liberal rules and invoked its emergency power to pass a bill requiring that the mayor obtain council concurrence on virtually all fund shifts. The mayor previously was required to do so above $25,000.
But the legislation passed by the council in September was never sent by Council Chairman Arrington Dixon to the mayor, who threatened to veto it.
Dixon explained yesterday that "our position was restrictive and harsh" and that he hoped to buy time to find a middle ground. Council members Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large) and David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) accused Dixon of overstepping his power.
Members of a council task force headed by Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) worked out a proposed compromise with the mayor's office, and planned to ask the council yesterday to withdraw its original restrictive bill and substitute the new one.
Designed to dovetail with a new city financial management system, the version Jarvis was expected to propose would have set a complex formula under which the mayor would be allowed to shift some funds between $25,000 and $100,000 without council approval, depending on the size and category of a program's budget.
Before debate even began on this issue, John L. Ray (D-At Large) moved that the issue be table, barring consideration.
His proposal won, 7 to 4, with Ray joined by Mason, Jerry A. Moore (R-At-Large), Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8), Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5) and Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6). Opposed were Clarke, Dixon, Jarvis and Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large). John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) was present but did not vote. Willie J. Hardy (D-Ward 7) was absent.
An aide to one council member involved in drafting the ignored comprise said the dispute "is not a power struggle as much as it is a hammering out of checks and balances" between the mayor and council over who controls the city's purse strings.
Some other council members said privately that yesterday's vote was largely directed against Dixon's role. One mayoral aide said the vote cleared the way for a veto of the original bill and full reconsideration of the issue.
On another matter, Dixon introduced a resolution that he said could lead to council rejection of a proposal by Barry to transfer the city treasurer's office from the Department of Finance and Revenue into the office of the assistant city administrator for financial management.
Spaulding and Wilson, council members who head the committees dealing with the city's financial management structure, wrote Barry yesterday saying the transfer proposal was legally flawed and lacked needed detail. If Barry does not withdraw his proposal, they wrote, they will recommend outright rejection.
On Monday, Barry announced that he was nominating the current city treasurer, Carolyn L. Smith, to be director of finance and revenue.