Monday, November 18, 2013

What you may not know: Week of November 18

The Appleton Common Council meets on Wednesday for the first time since adopting the 2014 budget. This should be a relatively quiet week, but we do have some items of interest on the agenda:

Police, Fire Contracts

The top story this week is likely to be the ratification of new collective bargaining agreements with union-represented members of both the Police and Fire Departments. This is the first time the city has negotiated with either group since Act 10 was enacted.

Despite the changes in bargaining laws, however, our current tentative agreement with both unions came together very quickly. The speed at which all of this came together is encouraging to me: It suggests everyone feels like they're getting a good deal here.

Both new contracts are for four years, so assuming they're ratified on Wednesday we won't need to negotiate the next deal until 1/1/2017.

Community Development Block Grants

Many of you may recall that we had extended debate earlier this year about awarding funds from the 2013 Community Development Block Grants, a federal program intended to help meet needs of low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

While the city's allocation from the federal government isn't finalized yet, we're expecting to have $500,000 in grants for 2014 and staff has started the process of preparing to distribute those funds. Here's what's scheduled to come before council on Wednesday night:

  • $175,000 earmarked for the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program
  • $60,000 for the Appleton Housing Authority
  • $40,000 for the Neighborhood Program
  • $37,000 for administrative costs for the Community and Economic Development Department.
  • $10,000 for administrative costs for the Finance Department
  • $53,100 for the Parks and Rec Department for a pair of projects at Arbutus Park, to make electrical upgrades and renovate a pedestrian stairway.
Assuming all of those items are approved and the city receives $500k as projected, $124,900 will remain in the pool and be available to non-governmental community partners. 

I was pretty vocal in the debate on how to allocate CDBG money earlier this year, because I think these funds represent a remarkable opportunity to make a major difference in our community and it's important we do everything we can to maximize their impact. 

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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