THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 5/28/13 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/FINALIZATION OF FY2014 BUDGET

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 28th, 2013 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website, most likely, as part of the June 10th Regular Meeting Agenda packet.

VII. CONSENT AGENDA   (4 items total, all  passed by unanimous vote)

c. Adoption of a resolution approving a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for maintenance of State highways within the corporate city limits whereby the City is reimbursed by TDOT for said services in the amount of $141,176.00.

d. Adoption of a resolution authorizing the transfer of tax equivalents from the Electric and Waterworks Funds to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, and to authorize its distribution between the City of Oak Ridge and Anderson and Roane counties in accordance by State Law.

VIII. RESOLUTIONS

a. A resolution authorizing a sixteen month extension to the Municipal Services Agreement between the City and the U.S. Department of Energy to provide water and sewer services to the East Tennessee Technology Park. Passed unanimously

b. A resolution authorizing the City Manager and City Attorney to negotiate the transfer of the real property located at 148 Hillside Road to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County at no cost. Passed 4-2 Beehan, Hope, Miller & Hensley voting “Aye,” Baughn & Garcia Garland voting “Nay” and Mosby abstaining due to a friend working for Habitat for Humanity

My concerns: Significant questions were raised and were not adequately answered. 1. The city outbid the neighbors of this property who had originally offered to purchase it after it had burned down. 2. Council was urged to “move fast” with insufficient background or policy data 3. We have no policy on gifting land  4. The property was not owner occupied and the owner had purchased it from HUD just 2 years ago. Furthermore, the owner never purchased insurance and the city essentially rewarded him by purchasing it from him outright for $11,000.5. Habitat typically purchases properties and had apparently been offered another free parcel owned by a bank but turned it down.

c. A resolution transferring $35,535.62 from the Special Programs Fund (Red Light Camera monies) to the Oak Ridge Schools for repairs to the OR High School soccer field for sinkhole damage. Failed 4-3 with Garcia Garland, Baughn, Beehan and Miller voting “Nay” and Hensley, Hope & Mosby voting “Aye”

The schools failed to demonstrate this to be an emergency repair. Further, per my statement, their level of discretionary spending greatly exceeds that of the city’s for one-time expenditures. Their audits show between $2-5.8 million left over each year for discretionary spending whereas the city’s budget projects less than $1 million ($700K for 2014) for discretionary spending.

X. FINAL ADOPTION OF ORDINANCES/ADOPTION OF THE FY2014 BUDGET

Final adoption of the FY2014 City of Oak Ridge Budget establishing the tax rate at the same level as the previous year at $2.39.

Baughn made a motion to reduce the tax rate by one penny to $2.38 requiring a reduction in the $20 million General Fund by $90,000. Garcia Garland seconded. Failed 4-2 with Baughn and Hope voting “Aye,” Garcia Garland abstaining and Beehan, Miller, Hensley & Mosby voting “Nay.” Main motion (to adopt the final budget at the same rate) passed 6-1 with Baughn voting “Nay.”

My vote came down to one question: “Is this the best budget for our citizens?” I believe I clearly demonstrated over the last month that we can do better, much better. It is my hope that next year, if revenues increase as my fellow councilmembers anticipate, they will be more open to returning to you, the taxpayers, some of your money.

XI. ELECTIONS/APPOINTMENTS

Appoint a City Council Representative to the TVA Valley Sustainable Communities Program

Councilmember David Mosby voted in by acclamation.

Elect a High School Student Representative on the Environmental Quality Advisory Board for a one-year term of office beginning June 1, 2013. Aditya Chourey appointed by acclamation.

Elect a High School Student Representative on the Traffic Safety Advisory Board for a one-year term of office beginning June 1, 2013.  Emeline Brown appointed by acclamation.

Elect an applicant to the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission for a balance of an unexpired term ending on December 31, 2015. Sheldon Green voted in by Mosby, Miller, Hope and Beehan; Garcia Garland voted for Andrew Howe; Baughn voted for Martin McBride and Hensley voted for Hugh Ward

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4 thoughts on “THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 5/28/13 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/FINALIZATION OF FY2014 BUDGET

  1. Is there an alternative source that would fund repair of the soccer field? Sink holes provide a conduit for surface pollution to reach ground water. It will have to be repaired using either taxpayer funds or another citizen funded source, right?

    1. If I am not mistaken, the repairs have already been made. According to their last audit, the schools had $5.7 million left over to “spend at their discretion.” I made this point during our meeting and no one refuted my statement. The super indicated a preference for the city to pay for it, but he did not deny what the audit said or my assertion that those funds could be used instead.

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