Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What you may not know: Week of November 13

With the city budget passed and the holidays upcoming, we're likely looking at a quiet final six weeks or so for the Appleton Common Council in 2017. I likely will not have updates for you next week, when most of our committee meetings are off for the Thanksgiving holiday or the week after, as the council does not meet on weeks of the fifth Wednesday of the month.

Before we get to that break, however, we do have some business to tend to this week:

Safety & Licensing Committee, Wednesday, 6:30 pm

Several years ago the council voted to ban alcohol on quadricycles or "pedal pubs" in the city. Earlier this year The Social Station started operating an alcohol-free quadricycle in the city and their first season has largely gone by without any concerns. After extended discussion with the Police Department and the proprietor of The Social Station, Alderman Joe Martin introduced a resolution that will likely lead to us revisiting our previous decisions on this topic.

Alderman Martin's resolution is very specific, calling for The Social Station patrons to be allowed to carry alcohol on board (no alcohol will be sold on the quadricycle) on a designated route. While I recognize and support what Alderman Martin is trying to do, I'm hoping to expand the scope of the resolution to create an end result that doesn't just apply to one business and one route.

I anticipate a lively discussion on this topic on Wednesday night but a likely end result is this resolution being referred to staff to discuss potential broader ordinance changes.

Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, approximately 6:45 pm

Once the Safety & Licensing Committee wraps up its meeting the Parks and Recreation Committee will take their place to discuss an item that could impact the future of Memorial Park.

It has recently come to our attention that two properties along Northland Avenue near the park are available for sale. Memorial Park's recently updated long-term plans noted that these parcels of land would be worthwhile additions to the park if possible, and recent developments have put us in a position to consider it. The asking price for the two properties is a combined $240,000, and the purchase would be made out of an existing park land fund.

Both of the meetings listed above are special meetings before our scheduled full council meeting on Wednesday night. If the committees elect to take action on either of these items at their meetings, their action will be taken up by the full council later in the night. 

You can see all of this week's meeting agendas 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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What you may not know: Week of November 6

It's the busiest week of the year for the Appleton Common Council, as this is the week we're expected to adopt a 2018 city budget. Before we get to that, however, we also have committee business to tend to tonight:

Finance Committee, Monday, 5:30 pm

Monday evening's Finance Committee agenda includes a few items of significant interest:

  • Staff has again asked the committee to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Appleton Area School District to lend the district short-term cash to help ease challenges created by the differences between when the school district receives revenue and when it has to make expenditures. The maximum AASD can borrow as part of this agreement is $17.5 million and any borrowed funds are required to be repaid to the city with interest by June 30.
  • The next step in the process to determine the future of the Appleton Public Library is a Request For Proposals (RFP) for mixed-use developments including a library within the city's downtown area. The RFP will come before the committee this week with one notable change from the last discussion: The RFP deadline has been extended to January 12 and no council or library board action on the final result is expected until February at the earliest.
  • The process of renovating Jones Park was expected to begin yet this fall but staff has asked the committee to recommend rejecting all bids for proposed 2017 work to allow the project to move to 2018 following the completion of the Fox Cities Exhibition Center. There is hope that combining all of the work in the park into one project will create efficiencies that could lower the total cost.
Budget Adoption, Wednesday, 6 pm

Finally, on Wednesday night the Common Council is expected to conclude our month-long budget review process by adopting the City of Appleton's proposed 2018 budget. This year at our annual Budget Saturday review session the following amendments were approved:

  • The city's contribution to the Fox Cities Regional Partnership was decreased from $36,000 to $25,000 and the remaining revenue was earmarked specifically to support FCRP's "Talent Upload" program.
  • A capital project for $62,765 was added to the Public Safety Capital Projects Fund to allow for the replacement of a Police Tactical Robot. 
  • $102,909 was added to the Police budget to allow for salary and equipment for a new Behavioral Health Officer.
  • $100,000 budgeted for design and preliminary work at Ellen Kort Peace Park was removed from the Facilities Capital Projects Fund.
The following proposed amendments were not approved:
  • Reducing the budget for Common Council training and conferences by $2000.
  • Expanding the Department of Public Works' crosswalk enhancement plan by $40,000 to include the intersection of College Avenue and Shaefer Street.
There are six more proposed amendments on the agenda for Wednesday night, including three of mine:
  • A change to Reid Golf Course's repayment schedule on a 2002 cash advance from the general fund, calling for the city to eliminate $11,500 in rent payments to the golf course and instead apply that amount to the course's outstanding debt.
  • An addition of $6600 to the City Clerk's budget to allow for a tuition reimbursement.
  • Moving three capital projects totaling $104,632 from debt-funded to general fund status using surplus revenue available from unexpected state aid, and as such lowering the city's 2018 borrowing package and future debt service expenses.

You can see all of this week's meeting agendas 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.