Monday, November 7, 2016

What you may not know: Week of November 7

Our normal committee week schedule will be derailed a bit this week by our adoption of the 2017 city budget, which is scheduled for Wednesday night at 6 pm. However, there's still a fair amount going on to talk about:

City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm

A recent issue involving special assessments will lead to an interesting conversation this week on zoning.

Across the city, when properties are special assessed they're billed based on their zoning, which may or may not reflect their actual use. For example, the 200 block of N. Fair Street, which is near downtown, is zoned as commercial property (the city's intended future use for this space) but currently contains single family homes. The special assessment rates for commercial properties are much higher than single family properties.

Last week Alderman Bill Siebers submitted a resolution calling for that specific group of properties to be rezoned to reflect their current use, and for staff to locate any properties across the city that may be in similar situations for further consideration for rezoning.

There's a lot to unpack as we discuss the specific and general topic of zoning and whether it should reflect the present or future planned use of spaces. I'm looking forward to this discussion.

Board of Health, Wednesday, 7 am

A frequently-discussed issue is back on a committee agenda this week as the Board of Health will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the possibility of allowing chickens in the city.

This is a very polarizing topic for people, and I've received a fair amount of contact from residents on both sides of it. I also have some firsthand experience with this issue, as I used to live in a city that allowed residents to keep hens. It's been my experience that urban chickens, if properly regulated, do not cause major issues. Proper regulation includes limiting urban chickens to hens (no roosters), placing a limit on the number of chickens on a city lot and requiring bedding be regularly changed out to avoid odor issues. If those requirements are met, you're probably more likely to experience issues with your neighbor's dog or leaf blower than their chickens.

I'm sure we'll see extended debate on this issue on Wednesday morning, and I'd be surprised if that's the last time.

City budget adoption, Wednesday, 6 pm

Finally, the week's (and perhaps the year's) main event.

Wednesday is the final opportunity for alderpersons to make amendments to the 2017 Appleton City Budget before it is officially adopted. City staff asked for proposed amendments to be submitted in writing by Thursday afternoon, which was a pretty tight window given that the budget public hearing was only held on Wednesday night. Last I had heard, no amendments were submitted prior to that deadline. The entire budget is open for discussion on Wednesday night, however, and I do expect amendments to be proposed during that debate.

Personally, this year I have one budget amendment to propose, and I've already sent my apologies to staff for submitting it after the deadline. It covers the following:

  • Eliminating $8900 in rent the city pays to Reid Golf Course for usage of the facility for winter programs. Reid Golf Course still owes the city's general fund $155,000 on an interest-free loan from 2002, so I've asked for the rent to be applied to that debt instead of paid to the Golf Course Fund.
  • Reducing the Common Council's Training and Conferences budget by $554.
  • Funding a request from the Police Department to purchase ten additional body-worn cameras for police officers at a cost of $9454.
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment