Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What you may not know: Week of January 6

After a several-week hiatus for the holidays and the coldest Monday in recent memory, the Appleton Common Council will thaw out and return to action this week with an abbreviated committee schedule. Here are some of the highlights:

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

Since I've joined the council one of the most oft-discussed topics has been the city's new blue recycling bins, and the Municipal Services committee is likely to take a step towards giving residents more alternatives on Tuesday night.

At the meeting I anticipate the committee will approve a proposed new recycling cart exchange policy that will allow recycling users to swap out their bin for a smaller version at no cost provided they make the request before December 31, 2014. After that time moving down to a smaller bin will carry a $100 fee, but the city will continue to maintain bins, replace broken bins and allow users to move back up to the larger bin for free.

On December 28 the Post Crescent ran a story about an earlier draft of this proposal, which called for the $100 change fee to begin immediately. At the last Muni meeting in December the committee made it clear that they wanted to give constituents time to make a choice before instituting the fee, then held the issue to give staff time to prepare this second draft.

Finance, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

The Finance Committee has a big ticket item on their agenda on Wednesday, as they're expected to vote to award a contract worth nearly $5 million for construction on a major project at the Water Treatment Plant.

This project has been a long time coming, as it's at least partially in reaction to new state and federal water regulations handed down in early 2012. The construction summary includes seven elements, but the primary task involved is installing and implementing an ultraviolet light disinfection process to inactivate Cryptosporidium and Giardia, two parasites that can cause very significant illness.

Of course, any time we're talking about a multimillion dollar project every possible step is taken to ensure we're doing the right thing, finding all possible efficiencies and adding something that will last. This project will have to clear an additional hurdle, as approving the project will require a $361,000 budget adjustment to cover some additions that have had to be made since the original project budget.

With that said, I think this improvement is going to be a great thing for our community and everyone that uses our water.

Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, 6 pm

We've been debating the possibility of allowing dogs in Appleton City Parks since August, but this may finally be the week where the Parks and Rec Committee makes a recommendation to the full council.

I wrote about this issue in my last post a month ago, where I outlined a possible rule change and set of criteria for allowing pets into city parks. The committee approved my amendment by a 3-1 vote at our last meeting in December, but then elected to hold the action item so the Legal Department could have an opportunity to re-craft the language.

With their suggestion in hand, I think we're finally ready to proceed here. I expect this amendment to pass Wednesday night, and it should make for interesting debate at council the following week.

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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