City Council will hold its next regular meeting this coming Monday night. A complete copy of the agenda packet can be found here. I’ve extracted the most notable items and pasted below with the most significant item being the first reading of our annual city budget.
As promised during my campaign, I have endeavored to reduce our property tax rate, debt and overall cost of living in Oak Ridge. It is clearer now more than ever that there is room to save you money and, in turn, make Oak Ridge more competitive to new business and residents.
I’ve written the first of a series of columns found here and will use our council meetings (May 13 & 28 with others possible) to push for exploration of these and other cost-savings ideas. The success of my efforts, however, will depend on citizen support.
The annual budget is the most opportune time for you make your voice heard on how the city spends your money. Please consider participating in one or more of the following activities: email or call all of council (contact info found here); attend our meetings and voice your concerns; submit your ideas/concerns to the local newspapers.
As always, 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 (typically by Friday).
May 13, 2013 Oak Ridge City Council Meeting
VII. CONSENT AGENDA
b. A resolution awarding a contract to Nedrow & Associates for one digester pump for the Wastewater Treatment Plant for the estimated amount of $36,843.
a. A resolution approving the FY2014 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Annual Action Plan and proposed allocations of entitlement funds estimated at $215,024.
The public hearing for this plan was held during the April regular city council meeting. The City of Oak Ridge is an entitlement jurisdiction, receiving annual allocation of CDBG funds from HUD. This plan is a requirement under that program. The city receives $200,000 – $300,000 per year in CDBG funds. The planned expense for these funds this year is to repay some of the debt on the Scarboro Community Center expansion and to acquire and demolish dilapidated housing primarily in the Highland View community.
b. A resolution extending the city & CVB annual audit contracts with Pugh & Company for one year for $62,950.
This contract includes an increase of $9,150. $2,150 of that increase is to cover the increases originally proposed in the 2008 contract. The other $7,000 will cover the trial transfer of additional functions from city staff to the firm for the preparation of the notes to financial statements. It is thought that since this same firm also audits the OR schools’ financials that there may be some savings in duplicate man hours. This change is proposed for the trial period of one year.
c. A resolution to close the Economic Diversification Fund at the end of FY2013.
See discussions here and here. Council has been flooded with communications from chamber members asking that we preserve their funding by $75K more than has been proposed. My position on the matter remains unchanged in light of this conversation.
IX. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES
2014 City Budget First Reading/Public Hearing (the establishment of the property tax rate at $2.39)
X. FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES
(Third attempt) Second and final reading of amendments for land use and zoning for parcel to be occupied by a Dollar General store.
XII. COUNCIL REQUESTS FOR NEW BUSINESS ITEMS FOR FUTURE BRIEFINGS
My request as follows:
From: Trina Baughn
Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2013 11:15 PM
To: Watson, Mark; Stanley, Diana
Subject: May 13th Agenda Request
Please include the following on our next agenda:
Direct the city manager to pursue converting the following city-owned assets into taxable properties:
- Put the golf course up for sale
- Terminate the lease agreement with the Chamber of Commerce and place property for sale
- Put the Commerce Park building located next to Tech 2020 up for sale
- Establish a policy for returning acquired blight properties to a taxable status as quickly as possible
Request that the IDB provide proof that the PILT program has provided a return on investment great enough to justify the abatements provided.
Commission a team of representatives from the City of Oak Ridge, Anderson County, Roane County along with their respective property assessors to research and eventually negotiate voluntary PILT agreements with exempt organizations who are most able to afford paying for city services that are currently paid for by the taxpayer, i.e. Methodist Medical Center, Oak Ridge Utility District, Tech 2020, Roane State Community College and the University of Tennessee.
Call me if you have questions.