Before I get started, please note that all of these committee meeting times are subject to change if the preceding meeting goes long. Meetings will not start before the listed time, but may be pushed back if the previous meeting continues for over an hour. Given the topics at hand, it's a strong possibility that staying on schedule will be a challenge this week.
Municipal Services Committee, Monday, 4:30 pm
In last week's update I mentioned a resolution introduced by Alderman Bill Siebers calling for the city to change the fine for parking in the street during times where parking is banned due to a snow emergency. That item was on our council agenda last week but was referred back to the Municipal Services Committee and appears on their agenda once again.
This committee has previously opted to recommend addressing this issue by raising the fine from $25 to $100 per offense. As I noted last week, that increase would establish our fine for this offense as the highest among comparable municipalities.
The more I've thought about this issue the more I've come to see it as an enforcement issue, not a punishment issue. I have yet to see any compelling evidence that raising the fine will improve compliance, and would support efforts to try to find another way to solve this issue.
Finance Committee, Monday, 5:30 pm
This week the Finance Committee will be asked to make another recommendation on a step forward in efforts to build a new Appleton Public Library as part of a mixed use development on the site of the Soldiers Square parking ramp downtown.
In April of this year the city council and library board voted to support the city's efforts to include the library's needs as identified in a mixed use development with Commercial Horizons. The 2018 city budget allocated $500,000 in funding for the library project, and this week the Finance Committee will be asked to recommend awarding $347,000 of that allocation to Commercial Horizons for the following project elements:
- Site development and building coordination for the new library.
- Programming and public outreach for the new library.
- Library schematic design.
- Site development for a temporary parking solution following the demolition of the Soldiers Square ramp.
- Topographic and schematic parking lot layouts for temporary parking.
Some of this is a continuation of work already taking place. There is an Open House with the OPN Architects scheduled for Tuesday, August 14 from 6-7:30 pm for interested parties to drop by and share their opinion. Anyone interested in being part of a focus group with the architects can also sign up at apl.org/focusgroups.
In the meantime, continuing the process with Commercial Horizons will hopefully give us more information to consider in our 2019 budget discussions.
Committee of the Whole, Monday, 6:30 pm
Again, in last week's update I noted that our August 1 council meeting included an agenda item calling for us to act on a proposed amendment to the U.S. Venture Development Agreement. Last week council met for about an hour and a half in closed session to discuss negotiations related to the amendment, then later opted to refer the item back to its committees of jurisdiction for further discussion. The amendment had been sent directly to council previously, so this will be the first committee meeting to discuss this action item. Because the item is technically within the jurisdiction of the Finance, Municipal Services and Community and Economic Development committees, council will come together as a Committee of the Whole to take it up.
Our previous conversations on this topic have been in closed session, so I'm reluctant to discuss any of the finer points of the negotiation at this juncture. Suffice it to say that I expect a spirited discussion on the proposed amendment on Monday night. I'll also note once again that while this project does require a significant investment, it has been and continues to be the city's priority to keep the expenses contained within the appropriate Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to prevent the taxpayers from bearing any of the burden. The costs are being borrowed by the TIF district and are expected to be repaid by increased revenue due to the related increase in property values.
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.