Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What you may not know: Week of October 3

The Common Council will hold our regularly scheduled full council meeting on Wednesday night, but odds are the day's biggest news will be sitting on our desk when we get there. The City of Appleton's 2017 budget is expected to be printed and distributed to members of council this week, at which point it will largely dominate schedules and conversations for the rest of the month.

I haven't seen this budget book yet, but each of the previous years' have been over 600 pages. Our window to review it is relatively brief, as our all day "Budget Saturday" Finance Committee meeting is scheduled for October 29 and I have made it a practice to have the first round of my budget questions (usually dozens of them) to department heads early in the week leading up to that.

This year's budget schedule is as follows:
  • Wednesday: Council receives the mayor's budget proposal.
  • Weeks of October 10 and 24: Individual department budgets appear as action items on committee agendas.
  • Saturday, October 29: The Finance Committee (with most or all of council present) meets all day to go over the budget. This is the first opportunity for amendments.
  • Wednesday, November 2: Council holds a public hearing on the budget.
  • Wednesday, November 9: Final amendments and budget adoption.
Between now and November 9 I anticipate taking the budget with me almost everywhere, including onto half a dozen airplanes. Oversight of the budget is almost certainly the single largest responsibility in this job, and doing it well requires making it a near full-time commitment this time of year.

Of course, in the meantime we also have a council agenda to take care of this week. Here are updates on the items I brought up last week:

  • The Parks & Recreation Committee voted 3-0 to recommend approval of modifications to the city's Recreation Program Fee Waiver Policy, after making an amendment to remove some of the potentially challenging language requiring a parent to have majority custody of a child to be eligible for family benefits. My concerns on this matter are now resolved and I expect it to pass without much issue.
  • The Municipal Services Committee voted 3-0 to recommend approval of a reconstruction design for Mary Street that will narrow the street on the west side to save four trees, but remove parking along the east side of the street.
  • The Community and Economic Development Committee voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the city's portion of the anticipated 2017 Community Development Block Grant funding, including the aforementioned $200,000 that had been proposed for property acquisition towards a possible "small home" community. At that meeting the clarification was made that the money is towards an affordable housing project and while small homes are one option for that project, other options will be considered. I expect there to be more conversation on small homes at a later date.
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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