Monday, October 19, 2015

What you may not know: Week of October 19

First of all, my apologies for missing last week's update while I was returning from a wedding out of town. It ended up being something of a moot point, as most of the week's major action items were held and I'll have a chance to tell you about them again when they come back up for committee discussion.

In the meantime, the full council meets on Wednesday and we still have some pretty big items to discuss:

Appointment of a new City Clerk

The city has been without a city clerk and employing an interim deputy clerk since July 23, but the search to fill the former role appears to be drawing to a close. On Wednesday council will be asked to approve the hiring of Kami Scofield, who would start on November 16.

I haven't met Ms. Scofield but her qualifications are significant: She has spent the last four years as the City Clerk in Verona, is certified by the Wisconsin Certified Municipal Clerks Association, belongs to both the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association and International Institute of Municipal Clerks and has a bachelor's degree in Public Administration from UW-Stevens Point.

I look forward to getting an opportunity to meet Ms. Scofield and work with her in the future.

Special Assessment Policy

In my last update I mentioned a concern with the City of Appleton's 2016 special assessment policy regarding streets that need to be transitioned from "rural" to "urban" status. This transition typically happens in areas that have recently been annexed into the city in an effort to bring their infrastructure up to city standards.

There are two phases in that process: A "grade and gravel" phase where the street is prepared for permanent installation, and the actual installation of a permanent street. Last week the Finance Committee voted to amend the proposal to remove residents along these streets' responsibility for the grade and gravel portion, but continue to assess them for permanent street installation. In my opinion that's a step in the right direction, but it leaves a gap among property owners that have already paid for it and will also be billed for the final installation.

I remain concerned about how this policy impacts property owners in that gap, and will continue to work to address the issue.

Exhibition Center

Two weeks ago council opted to take no action on a proposed intergovernmental agreement to raise the room tax across the Fox Valley to finance the construction of a new exhibition center downtown, and this week that item is back on our agenda along with another important milestone: the management agreement between the city and the owners of the Radisson Paper Valley hotel.

I haven't had a chance to review these documents at this point, but I will between now and Wednesday because it's critically important that they, especially the management agreement, protect our interests and limit our risk in the event this project moves forward.

I'm pleased to note that some of my previous concerns regarding this project, especially the hotel's long-term ownership situation, have been resolved. I've written at length about some of the risks that need to be minimized, and I'm hopeful this document will address them.

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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