The Portland City Council has reached an impasse over Mayor Ethan Strimling’s plan to appoint himself as head of the city’s budget committee.

The council took up Strimling’s slate of committee appointments early Tuesday morning, at the end of a marathon meeting. The councilors immediately brought a motion to override his appointments. The vote was 8-1 to override, with Strimling on his own in opposition.

“Remarkable that we are unwilling to debate,” the mayor said.

Strimling had written an alternative slate that shifted many committee assignments for the councilors, but he did not bring it forward. The meeting quickly adjourned just after 12:30 a.m.

Committee appointments are traditionally made by the mayor in the beginning of December, but Strimling delayed the presentation as councilors resisted his plan to appoint himself head of the powerful Finance Committee.

Nothing in the charter prevents a mayor from appointing himself or herself as the head of a committee. In fact, former Mayor Michael Brennan headed the council’s legislative committee, which works with the city’s legislative delegation in Augusta.

But this would be the first time a mayor has used that authority to take over leadership of the Finance Committee, which oversees more than $345 million in annual spending.

Strimling said he wanted to create a process that would give the popularly elected mayor more influence over the budget process. But some councilors said it would concentrate too much power in the hands of the mayor, who already has the authority to veto the budget.

The mayor’s move reignited debate about how to interpret the mayor’s role under the city charter.

Comments are no longer available on this story