Monday, May 11, 2015

What you may not know: Week of May 10

The Appleton Common Council has a full slate of committee meetings planned this week in our first two-week cycle under our new schedule. Here are some of the agenda items I'll be watching:

Human Resources, Monday, 5 pm

Two of the city's highest-profile elected positions, mayor and city attorney, are up for re-election in April of 2016. One of the things that needs to happen before then will start this week, as the HR committee is expected to make recommendations on both positions' salaries for the next four years.

The starting point for discussion on the mayor will likely be the $94,686 he's receiving in 2015. That figure has gone up between 1 and 3.5 percent in ten of the last eleven years, climbing over $18,000 since 2003.

Appleton's somewhat unique municipal management structure complicates matters here, as many cities of comparable sizes either do not have full-time mayors or have a full-time mayor but also employ a city manager/administrator. Appleton's mayoral salary is significantly lower than what most comparable city managers or administrators are making, as Eau Claire, Fond Du Lac, Janesville, Kenosha and Oshkosh all pay theirs between $132,000 and $147,000 annually.

Mayoral salaries, however, tell a different story. Appleton pays its mayor significantly more than they make in Green Bay ($82,500), La Crosse ($77,200) and Wausau ($74,850). It's hard to compare apples to apples here, though, without knowing exactly how those mayors' job responsibilities compare to our own.

Earlier I mentioned that Appleton's mayoral salary has gone up over $18,000 in the last 12 years, but it's also worth noting that recent changes have been more modest, rising just $3,686 in the last four years. I'm looking forward to the discussion on how we should proceed here.

Meanwhile, our city attorney makes slightly more than $110,000 per year, a figure slightly below the average of 12 somewhat comparable municipalities polled for comparison purposes. Both of these offices will be assigned salaries for their next four-year term, commencing following the April 2016 election and running through April of 2020.

Parks and Recreation, Monday, 6 pm

No official action is likely to be taken, but a major northside park will take another step towards potential improvements on Monday when the Parks and Recreation Committee reviews a proposed updated master plan for Memorial Park.

A fair amount has changed at Memorial Park in recent years, including the construction of the Miracle League field and two stormwater ponds and the decision to return the Gardens of the Fox Cities to city control. More changes are on the horizon for the years to come, so this is a good time for the city to take a step back and look at the entire park at once. I attended an open house to discuss this plan several weeks ago and was impressed by the consideration of several options to better utilize the park's available space and work to improve its functionality going forward. I'm looking forward to seeing the resulting recommendations.

Municipal Services Committee, Tuesday, 6:30 pm

The Municipal Services Committee has 16 action items on their agenda for their now later-than-usual meeting, including approvals of proposed designs for six future street reconstruction projects. The day's big news, however, is likely to be some very significant changes to downtown parking enforcement starting in summer of 2015. These recommendations are some of the first responses to our recent parking study.

On Tuesday the committee will make recommendations regarding requests for the following changes:

  • All on-street meter hours of operation will change from 9a-9p Monday-Saturday to 9a-6p, creating 18 new hours of free parking weekly.
  • All meters north of Washington Street will change their parking limit from two hours to 12 hours and their rates from $.75/hour to $.20/hour.
I suspect these proposed changes will be popular, but I have some ongoing questions about potential unintended consequences as it relates to parking availability. I'll be curious to see where this debate goes.

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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