Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Council Meeting

The meeting started at 7:37, after the Liquor Control Commission finished, with the swearing in of new C'dale Police Chief Jody O'Guinn.

Next was a brief public hearing on the vacation of the Wagner Street right of way on the north side of the city. One property owner spoke in favor of the vacation of the right of way.

Next, the consent agenda. As is usual, Councilman Fritzler pulled one of the warrants out for a separate vote and someone, Councilwoman Pohlman I think, wanted a separate vote on the Wagner Street right of way vacation. Councilman Fritzler wanted to ask about an expenditure of $396.11 to pay a security company to escort a city employee the three blocks to make the city's bank deposits, asking if it wouldn't be more cost effective, saving the city $5000 a year, to have a police officer escort the employee, rather than hiring a security guard? He also wanted to know about money spent on inflatable beach balls to promote the city's recycling efforts. Councilwoman Pohlman also asked about the beach balls and the mayor promised to look into if they were made out of recycled plastic. Both the warrant and the right of way passed.

Next up was the item generating the most discussion of the night, what wound up being a resolution denying a special use permit to put a couple of apartment units in an area zoned for professional/administrative use. The opposition to the re-zoning came from residents of Woodland Hills, the gated subdivision off West Striegal Road. From the look of the proposed map, the parking lot for the apartments would butt up against the fence surrounding Woodland Hills and the trees the developer proposed putting in to screen the subdivision from the lights and noise of the apartments wouldn't be big enough to to the job by several years.

The developer pointed out the property in question had been for sale for 14 years and his proposal met all fo the requirements the city had in place. The Woodland Hills residents countered that the development would mean increased traffic in the area and a decline in property values. The mayor noted he had held a meeting with Woodland Hills residents that only 7 had attended and, when Councilman Wissmann asked how many of the residents had attempted to discuss the situation with the developer, only one held up their hand, while the developer indicated he had attempted, at least, to contact residents, but with no luck. In the end, Councilmen Fritzler, Jack, Pohlman and McDaniels voted to deny the permit. A good thrid of the audience left after this vote.

The resolution authorizing city manger Gill to purchase property for a fire station on the west side of town passed pretty quickly and then it was on to the Eurma Hayes Child Care Center report, which points out that the center has really turned into a money pit over the last few years, with the city subsidizing it to the tune of $1 million since 2004. Among notable expenditures, the city replace the roof after the recent storms at a cost of $64,000 and remodeld the kitchen last year in a building only 50% (maybe 75%, they're not sure) of which is used. Currently there are 44 children using the center, down from a high of 150 in the early 90s, from 35 families, 13 of which don't even live in Carbondale. The city charges the Center no rent for the building, leaving the Center to seek outside funding for salaries and other expenditures. The state is a major source of funding but last year, the Center expected funding of $115,000 from the state and only received$67,000. Somehow, (I couldn't figure out quite how) the Center expects to receive $174,000 for 47 children for fiscal 2009-2010. The city manager proposed shutting down the facility on August 1st. The council will vote on the proposal at its July 21 meeting.

Councilman Haynes protested that was too short a time to give to a major decision such as this. I thought a month was about all the time the council gave to discussion about the Saluki Way tax (yeah, I still think that was a bad idea) and eliminating the Building and Neighborhood manager's position. Mayor Cole then launched into a good 5 minute speech about how the economy was bad at the national, state and local level and people needed to realize this and, if we didn't cut here, the city would have to cut someplace else. Meeting dismissed at 9:37

1 comment:

  1. Excellent report as always. Its a pleasure to see citizen journalism in action. There is one thing that is not accurate: the discussion about Saluki Way. Mayor Brad Cole proposed the idea only one week before it was voted upon. It was NOT discussed for a month. On the other hand, the $35 fee for housing inspections went through three Council meetings over 2 months. Haynes is wrong on this issue. It doesn't need more discussion since it has been at least 8 years that the problems have been known.