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Monday, December 8, 2008

City Council Meeting: Dec. 8, 2008

At the prior work session: (1) The Mayor thanked Council President Quinn and Finance Chrm. Mixon: "I'm glad for your help on city finances. I usually have to do it all myself"; and added that all activities like the recent Xmas parades are "paid for by our utilities." Also, he claimed that salaried employees helped with the recent Xmas parade to reduce overtime (for hourly ones). Someone commented: "Hope they didn't hurt their (soft) hands!" The Mayor said he's cutting the yearly employee Xmas party dinner to just a "luncheon" to save money too. (2) President Quinn and Mixon then directed Dept. heads to look at these other cost-cutting measures: conduct a utility rate study(flat rates?); improve the bidding and purchase order processes; study going to once weekly garbage pick-up; find ways to reduce vehicle fleet/maint. costs; re-assess building fees; "flex" hours for employees(?); do energy audits of all buildings; require precise job descriptions for all employees. Mixon added that many other cities are laying off-- and we want to "cut costs so we won't have to." (3)The library Director reported: "We'd have to close without our volunteers." (4) The proposed FY 2009 budget was presented by Rose Fogarty. Total expenditures were projected to be $20.606 million and expected revenues $20.641 million (with a surplus of about $34,000!). Fogarty surmised with: "Revenue's an issue"; and Treasurer Nancy Wilson warned that our "cash on hand is a cause for concern." (5) Quinn/Mixon then recommended accepting the budget proposal but "sit on top of it" and continue the cutbacks already implemented (no new hires, promotion freezes, cut overtime, etc.) Mixon reported a "Mr. Grubin" should come up with a new (budget) process within 6 months. (6) There was a lengthy discussion about "writing off" a $280,000 debt the golf course owes the Electric Fund -- for operating expenses -- and the consensus was to do so. (7) The Mayor concluded with: "Our budget is a best guess." Quinn and some downtown businessmen (there to discuss advertising matters) reported hearing "scary" rumors about possible store closings after the New Year. At The Council Meeting: Financial Reporter Fogarty reported a deficit (expenses over revenues) of $253,386 (all funds as of as of Oct31) and Treasurer Wilson that on hand cash accounts decreased by over $1.1 million from last year. Council President Quinn commented that there "will be issues with money when the downturn hits . . . probably worse than the effects of Katrina." Councilman Mixon moved to pass the proposed budget through March 31--with spending freezes previously mentioned, weekly reviews and altered continually. The budget was then passed unanimously. A long discussion about he Mayor's recent veto(2nd ever) of a small proposed Montrose residential subdivision followed. Quinn read a letter (Mayor's) explaining his concerns about the P&Z's involvement, project's height and possible firefighting problems there (low water pressure). Councilman Ford opined the whole thing was really about the Mayor being allowed to "talk" at Council meetings. The builder (Haley) complained "time is money." After the Mayor spoke and admitted he "may have gotten carried away" , his veto was over-ridden unanimously; but a new ordinance--slighty lowering the height-- was to be written and approved as soon as possible (future meeting in Jan). Councilman Kingrea suggested that the height ordinance was primarily intended to "protect downtown" (more flexibile in neighborhood PUDs). 3 bids for flooring at the new Volanta Recreation Center were accepted (totaling aprx. $170,000). Citizen Comments: Chris Warner spoke and complained the Parker Rd. Publix project did not fully comply with the city's (Comprehensive Plan) ordinances and HWY 98 was being turned in to "another Airport Blvd." Accordingly, legal action was being considered. John Parker of "Eastern Corridor 98" said his organization had planted 1,600 live oak trees along HWY 98 (private funds) and that 12 in Daphne and 5 in Fairhope have already been "lost to developers." One was recently removed fronting the new Publix because "Jennifer got the torque put to her"(!!!) by higher ups and "the Tree Committee succumbed too." He revealed there's an ongoing discussion about removing more trees there as well. President Quinn remarked : "It felt like a knife to my heart when that tree was removed"; and promised a full review of the whole episode by staff-- but that enforcement authority lies only with the Executive Branch (Mayor) , not the Legislative (Council).

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

wonder exactly what that guy meant by "torqued"? thats a new one on me.

brokeutilitycustomer said...

a utility rate "review" huh? dont especially like the sound of that! just lay off some un-necessary employees like other towns are doing. im gettin tired of them storming city hall demanding things.

broketaxpayer said...

uh oh, our award winning financial staffers are singing a different tune now that all the elections are over!

Anonymous said...

usually some third party (electric supplier, etc) is solicited to "recommend" a utility rate hike--to pay for employee demands, airport construction, new recreation, etc. That usually gets the politicians off the hook and most folks don't even notice it. Hope we're more honest and open about it this time. No more hidden taxation please.

Looks like both water and electric are in jeopardy this time. Rate hikes hurt the elderly and lower income the most, the affluent don't care.

billybamaboy said...

thats right, the AMEA or somebody's gonna say our utility rates are "too low" and rec. an increase. always happens that way. just a secret tax increase. pretty slick. just wait and see!

mistergreenjeans said...

this is the only place we can find out what really goes on in there. those commercial papers are awful lame. makes you wonder why there hiding stuff.

oldtimer said...

get the dang city employees to slow down to the speed limit. that would save us a lot of fuel. one passed me on 98 the other day doing 98 , it seemed like.

Anonymous said...

not in the black any more, eh?

goodgirl said...

i like that chris warner. hes cute