Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What you may not know: Week of November 30

The Appleton Common Council kicks off December with a bit of an unusual week. We have a regularly scheduled full council meeting on Wednesday but the agenda is very light as most of our committees cancelled their scheduled meetings during Thanksgiving week.

Most of the items going to this week's council agenda will come from another meeting on Wednesday, a special Safety & Licensing Committee meeting that was rescheduled from last week. I have a pair of resolutions on that agenda:

School bus lights

I won't speak for everyone, but I think most drivers have a common expectation that they're required to stop when a school bus stops to unload passengers. As such I was surprised to discover that that's not always the case: State statute allows municipalities the right to allow bus drivers to use red flashing lights to stop traffic in certain situations, but it's otherwise banned unless said municipalities take action to allow it.

I've since learned that several major municipalities in the Fox Valley and around the state (Green Bay, Oshkosh, Neenah and Madison are some notable examples) have enacted ordinances allowing school buses to stop traffic, but some have not. As such, I've submitted a resolution calling for Appleton to allow this practice in an effort to keep our bus passengers safe.

Secondhand holding periods

I've also recently learned a great deal about state statutes and ordinances related to secondhand dealers. One thing that has been brought to my attention is some irregularity regarding the period of time secondhand dealers are required to hold merchandise after purchasing but before reselling it. The quick version:

  • State statute requires secondhand dealers hold items in their existing condition for a minimum of seven days before they are eligible for resale.
  • The shortest, seven-day holding periods are only available to municipalities that have electronic reporting of secondhand purchases.
  • In the absence of electronic reporting, a waiting period of at least 21 days is required.
  • Municipalities are allowed to determine which waiting period they choose to enforce.
The final point creates an issue as some Fox Valley municipalities (including Grand Chute) have elected to move to the seven-day waiting period, while Appleton has not. The requirement to hold items for an additional two weeks creates the opportunity for the recovery of more potentially stolen items but also puts secondhand dealers in Appleton at a potentially significant competitive disadvantage against dealers in other communities. I've heard of at least one business looking to locate in the Valley that chose to open outside the city to avoid our restrictions. 

As such, I've submitted a resolution calling for the city to consider a seven-day waiting period. I'm looking forward to an interesting discussion on this topic.

If the committee takes action on either of these items, the recommendations will be immediately taken up by the full council at their 7 pm meeting.

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. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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