Monday, January 26, 2015

What you may not know: Week of January 26

The Appleton Common Council will wrap up the month of January with a full slate of committee meetings, and two of the more notable items up for discussion are things we've discussed before:

Community and Economic Development Committee, Monday, 5 pm

The proposed Fox Cities Exhibition Center project is alive again this week and will be discussed on Monday, If you've fallen behind on the news, here are the events that led us to this point:

  • Staff's request to approve the purchase of the Outagamie County property behind the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel was held at both of the council's meetings in December before finally being rejected on a 6-8 vote at our January 7 meeting, putting the entire project in jeopardy.
  • Last Wednesday Council voted 11-3 (I was one of the nays) to reconsider that vote, reopening the item for discussion.
  • Before any final vote could be taken, however, the item was referred to the Community and Economic Development Committee, where it's my understanding the chair intends to hold it indefinitely. 
I've written previously about my problems with this project, but now I'm also concerned by the way in which we're proceeding. Continuing to pursue this project is an expensive endeavor, with attorneys, consultants and a lot of staff time being used as a part of this effort. I think it's irresponsible for us to continue down that path and continue to run up that bill without getting an actual up-or-down vote from the council to proceed. It's my hope that we'll bring this issue before the full council for a vote soon, to eliminate the risk that we're continuing to spend money chasing a project that will not be approved.

Finance Committee, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

Elsewhere in items we're seeing again, on Wednesday the Finance Committee will again discuss a resolution calling for the city to find a way to compensate property owners who have recently paid special assessments in light of the city's recently-adopted policy eliminating those charges for street reconstruction. I wrote about this item in my update two weeks ago, but the item was held at committee when neither of the resolution's authors were able to appear to make their case.

My position on this matter has not changed: I don't think any concerns about the fairness of changing policies will be alleviated by moving the line between the group who paid and the group who will not. Furthermore, any financial impact of doing so would be very difficult to take on without raising property taxes or eliminating city services.

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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