Sunday, July 28, 2013

What you may not know: Week of July 29

The Appleton Common Council has a busy slate of committee meetings scheduled for this week. Here are a few of the things that have captured my attention:

Community and Economic Development, Monday, 5 pm

There are three action items on the CEDC agenda this week, and I think all of them are interesting.

First, the committee will discuss plans to handle an extra $93,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds recently received from HUD. Earlier this year the committee made recommendations for an anticipated $430,000 in grants, but they've since received more money than they budgeted for. The current proposal for this overflow money calls for it to be spent in the following way:

  • $37,133 to the Parks and Rec Department for a project at Einstein Park/Middle School.
  • $33,000 for Habitat for Humanity, in addition to $15,000 they've already been approved for. This money is projected to be used to purchase a lot to use for new construction.
  • $13,000 for the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities (in addition to $13,000 already approved) to maintain eleven affordable housing units.
  • $5000 for Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley (plus $10,000 already approved) to use to renovate restroom facilities and add energy-saving lighting features.
  • $5000 to the city for administrative purposes.
Second, the committee will take up a resolution from Alderman Jirschele dealing with the proposed exhibition center downtown. The project has been under discussion for quite some time now but progress seems to have halted. Jirschele's plan calls for the city to appoint someone to either spur the project forward or end the discussion by January 1.

Finally, the committee will discuss proposed changes to Appleton's Fair Housing Ordinance, which protects residents of the city from being discriminated against in their efforts to find and retain housing. The changes are based on recommendations suggested by Milwaukee Fair Housing, and largely deal with issues surrounding gender identity and expression.

These changes may come with some controversy because they extend beyond the bare minimum requirements set forward by the state, but I think it's important Appleton be a leader on this issue. Allowing law-abiding, rent-paying citizens to be discriminated against for any reason is not something I'm willing to accept.

Finance, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

If you read Sunday's edition of the Post Crescent's "City Notes," then you may already know that on Wednesday I referred the city's proposed 2014 special assessment plan back to the Finance Committee for further discussion. The proposal includes a plan to raise the rate by $1/foot for installation of new storm and sanitary sewers and laterals, which would increase the special assessment charge for a property receiving these repairs by roughly $80-120.

That's not a lot of money in the grand scheme, of course, but I still feel like I need to hear more before I'll feel convinced a rate increase is necessary. I've asked the Department of Public Works and Finance Department to provide more evidence that these increases fill an actual need and are not out of line with the rates neighboring communities are charging.

Parks and Recreation: Wednesday, 6 pm

Following Finance, the Parks and Rec committee will meet to get their first look at a concept plan for a proposed skate park in Telulah Park. This is the latest step in a project that's been developing since 2009, and it's an exciting move forward in a project I know a lot of people are eager to see completed.

You can see all of this week's committee agendas and attachments at the city's Legistar page

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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