Monday, February 9, 2009

City Council Meeting (Feb. 9, 2009)

At the prior work session: 1. Mayor Kant said the water/sewer rate sudy would be ready next Council Meeting; and there will be basically 2 choices: raise rates for necessary "capital outlays" or "keep rates low." Also, $2 million would most likely need to be borrowed. 2. Golf Director Bobby Hall said $110,000 was needed to renovate greens (Tiff Bermuda) and for other repairs-- and the course would have to be closed from Jun. to Sept. to do so. The funds were to come from those already appropriated to build a concession stand building at the Barnwell Recreation Center. 3. Negotiations are still underway to allow Thomas Hospital to use the city's old Volanta Gymnasium as their new Wellness Center. Counclman Stankoski insisted the deal be "equitable and fair" for the City. 4. A representative from Merchant Capital offered their help to re-fund two 1999 bond issues and thereby save the city $250,000 in interest payments; but cautioned time was of the essence due to rapidly changing financial market conditions. 5. Budget Process Committee Chairman Stan Grubin gave his preliminary recommendations: essentially to rely more heavily on Dept. Heads to continually review/update their budgets ("dynamic forecasts")--and report findings to Council ("Ownership by Dept. Heads"). 6.The Mayor said the Boys and Girls Club needed $2,500 from the city to "keep its doors open." Also, 5 new police cars were needed-- at a total cost of $96,000. He also mentioned that Theater 98 would be needing a storage facility built next door (Morphy Ave, old Senior Center site)-- costing the city about $160,000. At the Council Meeting: 1.The Chamber of Commerce's President (Bender) presented its "Blueprint for Tomorrow" focusing on mass transit issues. Basically, their study revealed people overwhelmingly favored mass transit, but not the increased taxes necessary to pay for it. 2. A spokesman for Theater 98 gave a brief presentation about their history and thanked the City for its past "support." 3. Bob Callahan --Board of Education Member--gave a presentation concerning school funding isues. Local schools will be hard hit this--and especially next year with a $23 million shortfall. Later, he breeched the possibility of a "local tax initiative' by the City to help its schools through hard times. 4. The Police Chief Search Committee has come up with a job description to be published immediately-- and the search closed on Mar. 6 at 5PM. 5. The proposed re-funding of the $5.1 million 1999 bond issues (to possibly save about $250,000 interest) was discussed at length; but it was decided to table the issue for 2 weeks and solicit the bids of other bond managers-- to get the best deal possible for the City. Council President Quinn expressed concern the delay could imperil the whole deal-- given recent bond market fluctuations--and dissented. 6. $2,500 was given to the Boys and Girls club to "keep its doors open." 7.A resoultion not to allow any employee pay raises without Council approval passed unanimously. 8. A resolution indefinitely discontinuing the employee education assistance program passed unanimously. 9. A resolution allowing Councilmembers immediate access to pertinent city information needed for their Committee assignments passed unanimously. 10. A long discussion followed concerning when/where to hold Council work sessions. Councilman Kingrea emphasized the need for more convenience/public participation while others worried about making city employees stay late more than necessary. Finally, the issue was tabled for further discussion. 11. Council President Quinn read a statement prepared by staff/city attorneys concerning questions about the Publix Store (Shoppes of Fairhope)-- to the effect staff had investigated every complaint made and found all allegations false/unfounded. Public Participation: 1. Calvin Hunt addressed the Council about possible annexation of the largely minority areas south of town. President Quinn replied that such talks with some residents there were already underway-- but that numerous missing/inaccurate land titles were an obstacle. 2. Resident Paul Ripp again questioned the Publix project summarizing, "Its not what they said they were going to do." 3. Chris Warner criticized staff, the Mayor and Council over their handling of the Publix project as well saying, " . . . this thing's all about greed, cronyism and compromise . . . " President Quinn responded, "We do not appreciate you lambasting our (Staff) and City attorney," The meeting was adjourned (finally) at 9PM. [ legitimate corrections appreciated]

1 comment:

BrokeUtilityCustomer said...

seems like everybody and their brother's asking us for money for one thing or another--their own "stimulus packages" for pet projects.