October may seem a bit early for the end game, but the Council has two months (or about 4 meetings + 4 worksessions) to finalize the 2010 budget and the 2010-2014 CIP in addition to dealing with whatever routine business comes before the Council and not so routine issues like the Land Development Code. The chess metaphor may not be completely apt as I’m not sure quite what winning looks like in local government terms or even if there are two obvious opponents. However, we don’t have too many pieces left on the board to play with, we do need to think strategically, and I’ll be the first to admit that stupid sacrifices have been made along the way which limit our choices now.
On Monday, October 5 (get the agenda and packet here), we have a closed meeting @ 6:30 pm to consider the purchase/sale of the MNDoT owned property at the corner of Highway 3 and 2nd Street – part of The Crossings project and then @ 7:00 the public session begins, followed by a worksession devoted to budget/CIP issues.
You can read the packet yourselves (and you should), but here are a couple of questions I have –
Park Fund questions:
- On the consent agenda: Item 6 “Approve Yaggy Colby contract amendment for Mill Towns Trail contract” – the contract amendment in question is to pay for “construction observation” for the Peggy Prowe bridge and other projects which City staff are either not certified to provide (the bridge) or not able to provide due to staffing changes (the other projects). This need to amend the contract doesn’t bother me, but the $190, 456.65 cost of the contract changes is to be paid from the park fund…
- On the regular agenda: Item 8 covers requests from Highland Bank related to the Crossings project including having the City pick up $100,000 (from the Park Fund or Capital Reserve Fund) to pay for riverfront improvements including extending the river walk north. The city could be reimbursed for these expenditures somewhere down the line depending on progress made on part 2 of the project…
- What’s the impact on the Park Fund? We’ve shifted $125,000 from the property tax levy from the Park Fund to the General Fund to help with the current budget shortfalls created by the LGA unallotment . What’s left? What’s the long term impact to the Park Fund if we spend this money now?
- Where’s the policy discussion? Just call me Jiminy Cricket, the Council’s policy conscience, but shouldn’t we at least ask whether these proposed expenditures are in line with our overall park plans and policies?
- Carts before horses: oh, and we’re talking about park priorities on our CIP discussion during the worksession following the regular meeting. This is the result of my previous chirping about park policy in relation to the skateboard park and I’m glad we’ll be having the discussion, but it will be somewhat more difficult if we’ve just acted to spend $300,000 of park fund money.
Worksession – the money talk continues. Two departments (IT and the HRA) will present their budget proposals and the CIP discussion continues including the aforementioned park priority discussion and prioritizing the big projects – that would be the Safety Center and the Library.