Many thanks to all who came out to the city council meeting last night. I’ve never seen that room so packed! I congratulate Mayor Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Miller on their re-appointments. At the end of this post, I’ve provided my comments made just prior to the vote regarding my position. You can read more about the meeting here and here.
Here’s a quick rundown of the rest of the non-administrative meeting items. This list is highly truncated so please consult official meeting minutes for a complete, official record:
Consent Agenda (All items passed unanimously)
- A resolution approving awarding a bid for two replacement sewer pumps. Cost to taxpayer: $55,950
- A resolution to apply for and accept a $66,791 Emergency Solutions Grant from TN Housing Development Agency. No local funding match required.
- A resolution to hire a new veterinarian (replacing the previous one) for the animal shelter. Cost to taxpayer: $2,500 per month plus $45 per animal spayed or neutered. Some cost to be recovered through adoption fees which will revert back to original rate of $110 per adoption.
Resolutions (All but one passed unanimously)
- Award contract to First Place Finish for demolition of 2 city owned residential structures. Cost to taxpayer: $17K+ each.
- Adoption of (2) bond conversions. Cost to taxpayer: Administrative Fees of $30K; Savings for taxpayer: $160K per year for 5 years.
- Adoption of a resolution to extend and modify water contract with DOE (a highly complex and poorly crafted document, according to those more knowledgeable than I whom I consulted). I was the only “no” vote on this issue. As I discussed here, I had some concerns about how this contract would benefit our citizens and businesses since they recently faced significant rate increases and likely will again in the near future. DOE, by this vote, will NOT face any additional increases for the next three years and will benefit from a locked in annual rate, regardless of usage within a 10% range. It is my opinion that the staff did not produce evidence of benefit to the citizens or businesses of Oak Ridge, thus my vote.
My Statement Regarding My Column on the Mayor Appointment
First, let me say that I appreciate ALL of the citizen input that I have received over the last few weeks. I firmly believe that a more engaged citizenry makes for better government.
From the moment I decided to run for this seat, I accepted the responsibilities, good and bad, that come with holding a leadership position. I do not have a vendetta against Tom Beehan. I have no personal grudge or problem with him as an individual. My arguments against his re-appointment were made strictly out of concern for the future of our city.
Though we’ve experienced some small victories as of late, Oak Ridge still faces a very uncertain future. With a 33% increase in spending, a 79% increase in our debt and a deficit every year for the last decade, we are in a steady state of decline in every possible way. If we are to change course, we must face the reality of our past mistakes.
And while our problems cannot be blamed on a single action or individual, the answer to the question of ultimate responsibility is clear. City council is the highest level of leadership within our city and the mayoral position is the head of this body. Led by him or her, we are ultimately accountable for this city’s success or failure.
I do not apologize for doing what I believe is in the best interest of our citizens nor do I expect Mr. Beehan to apologize for doing what he believed was in the best interest of our citizens. I do, however, expect each member of council to take personal responsibility for our actions and the results that come of them. Mr. Beehan has had a decade to lead us towards prosperity. That has not happened. It is time to give someone else that opportunity.
In closing, I would like to reassure the public and all of council that regardless of tonight’s vote, I am prepared to work with each of you towards the betterment of Oak Ridge. Thank you.