Monday, October 31, 2016

What you may not know: Week of October 31

Before I get to the update, I'd like to remind you again that early voting continues in the City of Appleton. Voting will be open for Appleton residents at the City Clerk's office on the 6th floor of 100 N Appleton St from 8 am-4:30 pm each weekday this week. I'll be there helping out this afternoon. Tuesday afternoon, Thursday morning and Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, this time of year the budget is the primary focus of the City of Appleton's Common Council. Here's a quick breakdown of what's taken place recently:

  • On Friday, October 21 I finished my review of the budget and pre-submitted 64 questions via emails to department heads. 
  • On Saturday the Finance Committee met for six and a half hours to go department-by-department through the 668-page 2017 budget. This was the committee's first opportunity to make amendments to the budget, but none were made at this time. I did get an opportunity to remove a lot of post-it tabs from my budget book.
That brings us to this week:

Budget Public Hearing, Wednesday, 6 pm

Each year before our first scheduled common council meeting in November we open up the floor for members of the public to comment on the next year's budget. There is no specific agenda for this discussion, just an open opportunity for members of the public to share their views with the full council present. Aside from this public hearing, no official action will be taken on the budget this week.

From here, the next steps are as follows:
  • As a courtesy to staff and fellow alderpersons, any member of the council wishing to make amendments to the 2017 budget is asked to submit them in writing by Thursday.
  • The city will adopt the 2017 budget at a special meeting at 6 pm on Wednesday, November 9. This is the last chance to make amendments before the budget is finalized.
At 7 pm Wednesday or shortly following the conclusion of the public hearing, council will also hold our regularly scheduled meeting. Here are a couple of items of interest on that agenda:

Intergovernmental short term loans

For many years now the City and the Appleton Area School District have had intergovernmental agreements to address working cash challenges throughout the year via short-term loans. The cash flows and needs of the city and schools fluctuate throughout the year, sometimes leaving one short on working capital while the other has the capacity to briefly make a loan.

Last week the Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of another intergovernmental agreement for the next year to continue this practice. The amount of the loans is capped at $14.5 million, must be paid off no later than June 30, 2017 and the interest rate would be set at 2% above the average Federal Funds Rate for the duration of the loan.

This is another example of the value of having good working relationships with other local governments. We both have the opportunity to help each other and save the other from having to pursue more expensive or difficult means to meet short-term working capital needs.

2017 Community Block Grant allocations

In recent updates I've mentioned ongoing work to plan for and allocate $528,000 in anticipated awards from the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of their Community Development Block Grant program. That work continues this week as council will be asked to decide on how to divide $137,586 among 13 community partner organizations that have applied.

Last week the Community and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the recommendation of a six-member advisory board. Those recommendations were as follows:
  • The Mooring Programs, Inc would receive $36,213 of their requested $62,200 to rehabilitate housing units for residential treatment services for individuals with substance abuse disorders.
  • Salvation Army Fox Cities would receive $22,173 of their requested $38,079 towards a roof replacement project at a building associated with their food pantry.
  • STEP Industries would receive $15,000 of their requested $37,300 to support vocational and support services to individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
  • Harbor House would receive $15,000 of their requested $27,500 to support counseling and advocacy staff work with women and children affected by domestic violence.
  • LEAVEN would receive $15,000 of their requested $25,000 to provide rental assistance to those at risk of homelessness.
  • Homeless Connections would receive $14,200 of their requested $20,000 to support staff positions and assist with utility bills.
  • NAMI would receive $10,000 of their requested $26,190 to support a Peer Specialist Training Program.
  • Fox Valley Warming Shelter would receive $10,000 of their requested $20,000 to support staff positions at their facility.
Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity, Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities, Compassionate Home Health Care, Goodwill Industries of Northeast Wisconsin and St. Vincent de Paul Society of Appleton all also requested grants but would not receive any money under the current recommendation.

As I mentioned above, the $528,000 figure is an estimate for the city's 2017 CDBG award, and any or all of these numbers could be adjusted next year to accommodate any difference between the anticipated award and the actual money received. For now, though, this provides a framework for grant funding for the year ahead.

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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