Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What you may not know: Week of July 7

Please accept my apologies for this week's belated post (and no post last week). I'm just getting back from a few days away over the holiday and working on catching up today.

With that said, the Appleton Common Council's first committee week of July is underway, and here are some of the items on my radar:

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

The much-maligned downtown parking meters will step back into the spotlight at tonight's Municipal Services meeting, where an action item and an informational item will discuss a temporary and permanent change to their enforcement.

First, the committee will take up a resolution submitted by four alderpersons at last week's council meeting calling for meter enforcement to cease during the active hours of Mile of Music 2, scheduled for August 7-10. The rationale is that the event will bring many first-time visitors to our downtown, and we'd rather not have a parking ticket be part of their introduction to the city.

The resolution also likely creates some additional challenges, though. For example, if we remove parking enforcement downtown during the event, what will keep someone from claiming a prime parking space on the first hour of the event and staying there all day (or all weekend?). Part of the attraction of the meters is their ability to keep spaces turning over, so people coming downtown have a better chance of finding a spot. 

I'm intrigued to hear the debate on this proposal. Allowing free parking during this event could be a good thing, if it can be done without creating major challenges.

The information item is one we've discussed before: Alderperson Kathy Plank's resolution calling for staff to study the possibility of removing meters downtown. This item was previously held until a full downtown parking study could be completed, but is back on the agenda this week. I'll be curious to see if there are any updates on the possibility.

Finance, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

Beyond the parking debate, virtually all of this week's major news is likely to come from Wednesday afternoon's Finance Committee meeting. Items on the agenda include:
  • The "New Subdivision" portion of the special assessment policy. Two weeks ago the committee voted unanimously to amend the plan to call for property owners in new subdivisions to be assessed for the installation of their permanent streets, as we did for subdivisions platted before 2004. From 2004 until now developers have been asked to place money in an escrow account to pay for that eventual construction. The portion of the policy we will debate on Wednesday deals only with new subdivisions. Portions dealing with reconstruction of streets and utilities will be discussed at later meetings.
  • Alderman Joe Martin's resolution calling for the city to institute a "Wheel Tax" of not more than $20 per vehicle to cover the loss of revenue if the city elected to eliminate special assessments. We're still in the very early stages of considering this proposal and it's not my favorite alternative to the existing assessment policy, but it is an option to consider and I'm glad we're getting the opportunity to discuss it.
  • A staff recommendation calling for the contract to construct the new Telulah Park Skate Park to be awarded to Miron Construction Company. This project has been sent out for bids once before but all of the bids were rejected as they greatly exceeded our budget for this item. On our second try we were able to get bids that more accurately reflect what we're prepared to spend. Assuming this request passes the committee and council, construction is expected to begin in early August and be completed in the fall.
You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule 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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