Last night at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting, although the agenda item indicated that Council would only be discussing an ordinance that addresses the use of one-time funds, Council President Mike Lotko tabled that item in order to re-open the discussion about how to allocate the Windfall proceeds. Despite the lack of notice to the public regarding the discussion on this topic, Law Director Scott Serazin advised Council that this discussion was sufficiently related to the tabled agenda item that the Council could discuss the fund allocation.
During the regular Council meeting, conducted immediately prior to the Strategic Planning Committee, Council voted unanimously to create a new fund so that the Windfall monies could be accounted for in the budget. Previously, they were just sitting in limbo, having not yet been accepted by the City Council into any specific account.
During Strategic Planning, the Windfall funds were completely allocated (the total Windfall is $3,410,805.65). The primary concern expressed by Mayor Brinda, SSD Siwierka and Law Director Serazin was that if these funds remained unallocated, they would be part of the discussion during upcoming (and ongoing) collective bargaining negotiations. If the City has money that is not allocated, they said, the unions could argue that the City has money available to provide raises to its workers. The Administration is adamant that they do not want this to happen. Rather, the Administration wants that money spent as quickly as possible so that the City workers do not have that to use as an argument to support raises. This issue was not discussed any further. There was no discussion as to whether or not it should be used for raises, but the silent consensus of the Council appeared to be in agreement, as the entire Windfall was allocated immediately to be spent.
The Administration agreed to reduce its request for the State Route 57/49th Street Bridge Removal project down to $1.75 million to be used as its matching funds for the project. There is no dispute that we are obligated to proceed with this project, and nobody said that we should consider not proceeding. The issue remained as to how the City would fund its share, either through borrowing and financing or through the Windfall funds. The Mayor and Finance Director explained that the City's share will need to be paid sometime this year, probably in the fall. By reducing the Windfall contribution to $1.75 million for this project, the Council also allocated a total of $500,000 from the Windfall to street resurfacing projects, which will benefit the neighborhoods of our City directly.
Council next unanimously approved spending $800,000 of the Windfall to be spent towards the City's required match for the Middle Avenue street construction project, which will include beautification efforts such as new curbs.
Council also unanimously approved spending $249,000 for a major software upgrade.
Next, Council approved, by majority, spending $75,000 on a new time clock system to increase efficiency. This was not a unanimous vote (and I voted against this).
Finally, Council approved, by majority vote, spending $60,000 for measures to increase security at City Hall, which passed 8-3 (I voted against this also).
Councilman Baird then moved to allocate $50,000 to fund the Mayor's request for an Economic Development consultant study, which was seconded by Councilman Callahan. After significant discussion about how the City should be using other resources, particularly the Mayor's primary attention and focus, the Council rejected this expenditure by a vote of 4-7.
Councilman Madison and I both stated on the record that we would rather see any remaining monies allocated to the improvement of our parks (my referral for repair of West and South Pools has still never been discussed). Councilman Madison moved that the remaining $50,000 be allocated to the Parks Improvement Fund, which was seconded by Councilwoman Mitchell. Chairman Lotko at that point attempted to end the discussion and avoid a vote on the motion, but was corrected by the Clerk and Law Director that, as a matter of procedure, once a motion is made there must be some action taken upon it. The Finance Director then spoke up and stated that he believed the entire Windfall amount was accounted for and no additional funds could be moved to another fund. Madison and Mitchell withdrew the motion and the meeting was adjourned.