Sunday, January 6, 2013

What You May Not Know: Week of January 7

The city council is back after two weeks off for the holidays, and has a full slate of committee meetings this week.

Human Resources

The big news this week is expected to come from the Human Resources Committee, which will meet on Monday at 6 pm to discuss a compensation and classification plan for non-union employees. If approved by this committee and the full council the new plan would go into effect retroactive to January 1.

This request was discussed but ultimately held by the committee at their December 10 meeting because too many questions remained unanswered. It's the result of a study involving 400 city employees, and recommends consolidating the city's current 67 pay ranges down to 19. It would also involve redefining the way the city current evaluates its employees and implementing a "pay for performance" system.

At the last meeting this committee also held a proposal for a 0% pay raise for aldermen in 2014. That item will be up for discussion again at this meeting.

Municipal Services

The Municipal Services Committee will meet on Tuesday at 4 pm, and their agenda includes a request to approve the purchase of 25,250 recycling containers at a cost of about $1.24 million. The containers would be purchased from Rehrig Pacific Company, who had the lowest of four bids.

The committee will also discuss a staff recommendation to increase the reimbursement for mailboxes hit by snow plows from $75 to $125.


The Utilities Committee will meet Tuesday at 6 pm, and their agenda includes a potential request for a $400,000 budget adjustment for the 2013 Stormwater borrowing package.  There has been a change in projected costs for a flood prevention project near East High School and some of the overrun can be covered with money left over from 2012, but $400,000 extra will need to be borrowed to cover the rest.

Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Rec committee will meet Wednesday at 6 pm, and the only action item on the agenda is relevant within the 13th district. As you may recall from a previous post this committee is currently holding a plan for installation of sidewalks in Vosters Park to allow time for clarification on the plan and community input.

The Department of Public Works has released these two drawings of the projected sidewalks in the park:

Plan A, with a slight curve in the sidewalks:
 Plan B, which features straighter walks and also an added walk along Benvalley Drive:
Plan A was presented to the committee at their December 12 meeting. Here's what Dean Gazza, Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management, told me about the plan:

The reasons for curved sidewalks is to make the sidewalks a component of the park. We want people to use these walks as part of the park and to create character to beautiful park with a wooded area with boardwalks. Regular sidewalks are used to get people from A to B and generally do not engage a person’s interest. We want people to slow down and to utilize the large investment we made in developing this park. When walks are straight, they generally are not viewed as an amenity of the park, they are just viewed as another sidewalk. When the walks are curvy they become part of the park and serve as another feature for people to enjoy while using the park. The curves are intended to slow people down and make it feel more like a trail to provide more interest to the park.  
The curved sidewalks do not carry any additional cost for installation as compared to straight walks, but do require a little more work for snow removal. One of the points of contention at the 12/12 meeting was the possibility that installing these walks may require some trees to be removed, and the city appears to have heard that concern loud and clear.

Over the weekend I delivered letters to 30 residents of homes surrounding the park and invited them to weigh in on these two options at the meeting or before. Hopefully we'll get some insight from them before Wednesday. The committee will likely approve either one of these plans or a combination of the two at this week's meeting.

You can see this week's full schedule of committee meetings here. All items that pass through committee this week will move on to the next scheduled full council meeting on January 16.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as a candidate for and a potential member of Appleton's City Council. There's a lot going on and a lot of information out there, but I'm happy to do everything I can to make these decisions and the discussions around them as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested.

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