Items of Interest on the City Council Agenda for Monday

Hello and Happy New Year! City Council will hold its first regular meeting of the year this coming Monday night. A complete copy of the agenda packet can be found here.

The most important item on the agenda involves increasing your debt load by $18 million which will result in a 3rd and possibly more rate increases in your water/sewer bills.  You can read my opinion piece on the matter here. Fellow council member Chuck Hope also submitted a piece that ran in this week’s Oak Ridge Observer.

Strangely enough, the press release indicated a public hearing which typically means a vote by council. That is what the press, Mr. Hope, myself and others understood would occur. However, when we were provided the actual agenda on January 9th, the item was listed as a “Special Report.”

I’ve sought clarification from the city manager. Those communications thus far are provided below. Regardless, I want to encourage the public to show up and make their voices heard on the matter. The contents of the meeting will apparently be heavily weighted in the decision to be made by TDEC (the source of the loan) if council allows the staff to move forward with these loans. Since this form of loan may not require the city’s full faith and credit, then I deduct that it will automatically obligate the rate payers (Oak Ridge residents and businesses) to repay it, thus the need for public input. Your silence may, in effect, be your vote of approval.

Let me know if you have any questions about this issue or any other on the agenda. Feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested. I will post the meeting results to include voting specifics on my website in the days following the meeting.

As always, thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me.

Regards,

Trina Baughn

From: Baughn, Trina
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 10:39 PM
To: Stanley, Diana; Garland, Anne Garcia
Cc: Beehan, Tom; Hope, Chuck; Hensley, Charles; Miller, Jane; Mosby, David; Watson, Mark
Subject: Loan Vote

Mark,

I notice that the only mention of the $18M loan application is in a special report. When does council vote on it?

Trina


From: Watson, Mark
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:14 AM
To: Baughn, Trina; Stanley, Diana; Garland, Anne Garcia
Cc: Beehan, Tom; Hope, Chuck; Hensley, Charles; Miller, Jane; Mosby, David
Subject: RE: Loan Vote

Hi Trina….Hope you enjoyed the presentations this afternoon at PlanET.  The room was so crowded, I couldn’t get over to say “Hi” as people kept grabbing me to discuss OR issues.  Given our upcoming Work Session discussion on Economic Development, it gave some regional perspectives.

As for the Monday night meeting, BEFORE the City of Oak Ridge can make application for a reservation of funds from the State Revolving Loan Fund, we must hold a public hearing and discussion of the amount, uses, and purposes of the loan.  The interest rate at less than 1% establishes the lowest rates for using such monies that I have seen in my lifetime.  The staff will give an overview of the need (the Powerpoint should be in the agenda download for review and development of questions.)  We will also be able to hear from the public and Council.  Our proceedings will be reviewed by the State of Tennessee and then, a decision will be rendered by them to allow us to apply for the funds.  Assuming the “green light” to proceed, we would then develop an application, calendars, projected usage and bring it back to Council to submit.

I noted your article in the paper this morning.  Much of your detail is right on target, but we must not forget the time factor and deadline:  September, 2015.  The commitments of the City for the capital improvement needs in the Lamar Dunn study are our proposed solutions to the EPA to address the stormwater infiltration.  The TMBF funds approved earlier allow us to keep moving, with the long term loan being our source to address the major improvements (about a 4-6 month process with the state).

With all this in place, we are ready to meet with EPA and Gary Cinder may have a solid date set after today.  At that time, we can discuss timetables, our abilities to pay as a community and other such factors.  We will be pulling the Council EPA sub-committee together on this next week in preparation.  I would be glad to talk to you in more detail on the phone.

Mark Watson

From: Baughn, Trina

Sent: Friday, January 11, 2013 11:40 AM
To: Watson, Mark; Stanley, Diana; Garland, Anne Garcia
Cc: Beehan, Tom; Hope, Chuck; Hensley, Charles; Miller, Jane; Mosby, David
Subject: RE: Loan Vote

Mark,

We sent out a notice of a public hearing. Why is the agenda not formatted according to the rules and procedures of council to include the public hearing advertised?

Furthermore, the notice says that “The City of Oak Ridge will request SRF funding of a subsidized $4,000,000 loan…..and an unsubsidized 414,000,000 loan….” I’ve reviewed the last year’s worth of city council agendas and I do not find where council authorized you or staff to pursue this loan on behalf of the city. Please provide the documentation that authorized you to make this commitment.

Trina

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