Liveblogging Council, May 21

Following the invocation and pledge, items from the City Clerk’s memorandum were added to the agenda.

Under recognition of visitors, Homer Fisher was introduced as Chairman of the Y-12 Community Relations Council. Fisher explained the nature of the organization, then presented a resolution on behalf of the organization which strongly endorses the Crestpointe proposal, and encourages eligible BWXT employees and all other eligible Oak Ridge voters to register a positive (YES) vote on June 5, 2007.

Jane Miller presented a recorded greeting from US Rep. Zach Wamp, congratulating Mayor David Bradshaw on a job well done at this, his final council meeting before the June 5 election.

A Secret City Festival resolution was approved.

Another resolution was approved stating appreciation for the gift of student art, which has been displayed throughout the Municipal Building throughout the year. If you haven’t seen this display, walk through City Hall and marvel at the talent displayed. Fine arts matter, just as physics, math, English, and history.

Three additional resolutions were added, one each commending Leonard Abbatiello, Lou Dunlap, and David Bradshaw for their service to City Council. All three have chosen not to run for re-election, and will be replaced following the June 5 election.

Jane jokes about making Abbatiello laugh during the meetings; I have a joke of my own for Tom Beehan: Kramer. Watch and see if he chuckles next time he looks at his laptop.

 

Lou notes that they’re leaving some challenges for the next Council, and praises staff members Jackie and Sandy.

Jane recounts learning how to be a Council member from David. Tom Beehan praises his leadership style. Andy Marathe notes that he got to know David Bradshaw because he (Andy) bought a desk upon his arrival in town six years ago, and was the only person in Tennessee without a truck. David delivered the desk to his house — that’s constituent service.

The consent agenda was approved, and Council moved on to the second reading of the appropriations ordinance — enacting a ten-cent property tax increase, with the additional revenue divided evenly between the City and the Schools. After being moved and seconded, the Mayor asked School Board Chair to present the most recent information about the potential change in State funding. Smith took the podium and reviewed the information presented at the School Board work session last Monday, but also that the Legislature has changed course several times since last week. The outcome is uncertain, particularly with Sen. Woodson’s bill to reduce the cigarette tax increase to 20 cents.

Abbatiello again asks for answers to the questions which were previously answered at the committee meeting in April.

The City Manager presented his list of City needs, adding $115k to street resurfacing, $50k for an additional police officer, $15k to restore mowing services, $35k for an additional facility monitor (parks & recreation at the Scarboro Center), $21k for an administrative assistant, $30k for library materials, $14k for two additional issues of the city newsletter, $16k for mowing and demolition in code enforcement, $24k to increase dental reimbursement to 80% of $1500, $24k for network upgrades, $6k for GIS enhancements, for a total of $350,000.

Abbatiello questions whether the "equitable" distribution is really equitable; his premise is that the percentage increase for the schools is larger than the percentage increase for municipal operations. However, the schools have more than twice as many employees, more buildings, and a larger overall budget — so therefore, the distribution is NOT equitable, but not in the direction that Abbatiello alleges.

Mosby says he’s less concerned with equitability than with meeting needs, although he has some questions about the distribution of dollars for City needs. O’Connor clarifies that those numbers were modified to fit in the amount available, but because they’re recurring dollars, they can be funded over several years (such as network upgrades).

Lou Dunlap clarified that she realized, when proposing the equally-divided increase, that is was not "equitable" according to Abbatiello’s definition, but that it came closer to meeting the schools’ request, while allowing some improvement to the City budget.

What is the grudge that Leonard bears against the school system? Why do we have to go through this every year?

Beehan notes that he wishes that budgeting was more of a science than it really is. We think there will be additional state funding, but we don’t know for certain, nor do we know how much.

Save me some of that Shiraz, Joel… I think I’m gonna need it.

Bradshaw notes that the "windfall" (additional State money) that some have alluded to is not actually a windfall at all, but the State beginning to catch up to what they should have been paying all along.

 

Smith notes the uncertainly associated with additional State funding, and that he fully expects any new revenue to have strings attached — mandates that we may not necessarily have in our present budget. The budget will be amended, and the amended budget will come back before Council (even though no additional City dollars are required).

Mosby asks if the school board can’t wait until the end of the year to amend the budget; Smith clarifies that the federal dollars trickle in through the year, and it happens almost every year. Funds cannot be expended until they are included within an approved (by the school board and the Council) budget..

Abbatiello moves to amend the motion to adopt a tax rate of $2.55 (the budget & finance committee recommendation). It dies for lack of a second.

Superintendent Tom Bailey addresses Council noting that the School Board, the City, and the City’s lobbyist have worked hard to get to this point with the change in State funding.

Citizen comments follow.

Abbatiello again moves to amend, but with a $2.62 tax rate, decreasing the schools allotment to 3 cents. Dies for lack of a second.

Abbatiello say’s we’re in debt up to our eyeballs, that we’re not doing capital projects because of our debt levels.

Shane Deichman: I respectfully disagree with Mr. Marathe; I’ve lived here seven months, everyone has welcomed me with open arms, and that includes Dr. Bailey and Chairman Smith who have answered every question I had.

Raj Jain: I also disagree with Mr. Marathe.

Martin McBride: Mr. Marathe and i agree on many things, but this is one item that we disagree on. One of the things that we must look at is performance, and if you look at our schools, their performance is stellar. Schools are not cheap — they cost money. Looking at the way the school board does its budgets, they do a remarkably good job of dealing with their issues and financial priorities. Please fund the full request.

THE VOTE: Carries 6-1, with Abbatiello voting no.

5 Responses to “Liveblogging Council, May 21”

  1. on 21 May 2007 at 8:39 pm Joel

    Livebloggin rulz! You go, Netmom!

  2. on 21 May 2007 at 8:39 pm Joel

    g

  3. on 21 May 2007 at 8:40 pm Joel

    (too much shiraz)

  4. on 21 May 2007 at 10:35 pm Netmom

    Did you save me some shiraz? Could use it right about now.

  5. on 20 Feb 2008 at 3:42 pm School Board Election

    Two Orlando Schools in Trouble with State Board of Education…

    Two Orlando schools are in trouble with the State Board of Education. Both Evans and Jones High Schools have repeatedly failed the state’s annual school grading system that is based on student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Evans…

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